HEFLIN — The Heflin City Council heard from several residents about the possible closure of Coleman Street Tuesday night during a public hearing.
At last week’s work session Heflin resident Ellis Bennett approached the council with his concerns about the road because it’s too narrow and his driveway is on a blind vertical curve. Bennett said he hoped the road could be closed — which would make it non-public and likely barricaded at one end — or at least be made into a one-way thoroughfare.
The portion of the road Bennett wants closed is from Almon Street to where the Cheaha Regional Library is located.
Lesa Valdez-Wysner, who lives on Coleman Street on the other side of Almon Street, the dead-end portion, voiced her opposition to the proposed closure because it could hamper first responders’ response times to the area. At last week’s work session first responders said it could take an extra 25 seconds to respond to calls on Coleman Street if it was barricaded and closed.
“25 to 30 seconds is a lot of time for a fire,” Valdez-Wysner said, noting that she is also a firefighter for Hollis Fire Department.
Valdez-Wysner said the road is a “life access road” because so many elderly people live at the end of Coleman Street.
Valdez-Wysner said she can’t remember any deaths or accidents due to the blind spot on the road.
“It is a lifeline for people living on a dead-end road,” Valdez-Wysner said.
Heflin resident Robin Scott cautioned the city not to vacate the road because it would cut off access to so many residents.
“While it is, I believe, a hazard, I also believe it’s not unique to Heflin, Alabama. Heflin is a city of hills,”said Scott.
“When you vacate a road you end up with unintended consequences and you end up with other problems that you just never anticipated,” Scott said.
“Once you say, this is a solution for this kind of a problem, you set a precedent and there’s going to be a lot of people standing here saying, ‘I have almost the exact same problem over by my street that they do over on Coleman Street,’” Scott said.
Scott said that vacating the street should be used as a last resort and offered the idea of using parabolic mirrors to aid in the blind spot on Coleman Street.
After the residents finished speaking Councilman Shannon Roberts said he was against closing Coleman Street.
After the work session the council held its regular meeting and passed the following resolutions:
— Approved withdrawing $2,650 from the Alabama Trust Fund account for a security system at the City of Heflin Parks and Recreation Department and City Park.
— Approved withdrawing $2,898 from the city’s seven cent gas tax account for high performance cold-mix for road maintenance.
— Approved allocating $39,000 as the local match to construct a sidewalk which would connect the downtown area to Highway 9 and Brockford Road if the city is awarded a grant. The city will apply through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) for the The Community Development Block Grant which will total $410,000.
The grant will be announced in October according to Shane Smith, Heflin city clerk, and if the grant is approved the money will come out of next year’s budget and will be spent over a period of time.
The next council meeting will be on June 25 at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.