ATHENS. Ala. (WHNT) – On Tuesday, members of a historically black community joined together with the NAACP to plead that the Athens city council take a closer look at just how damaged the infrastructure is in their community.
News 19 has extensively covered the issues that are affecting the area and spoke to one pastor who says it’s going to take more than just a few meetings to get something done.
Ollie Turner of the Limestone County NAACP addressed the city council to ask why something hasn’t been done to improve the historically bad infrastructure issues surrounding Luke Street and Strain Road.
“All I want to ask is why?” said Turner. “Why hasn’t something been done because this is going on, and it’s been going on and it’s time for a stop and we ask the city to do something right now.”
Pastor James Jamar of the St. John Missionary Baptist Church says that the damage that water from the lack of an adequate drainage system and outdated sewer lines has caused major issues.
Jamar described to News 19 the kind of drainage issues affecting the sanctuary.
“When it rains, all the water from the top of the hill drains right back into the back of St. Johns and through those people’s yard,” Jamar explained. “It’s all because we don’t have the ditches that will move the water out, so it stands still. The drains need to be fixed bad.”
Jamar says that the new construction that now sits just yards from his historic community that requires new sewer lines causes the smell of sewage that reeks through the church and the neighborhood.
“When the water backs up, you can smell it then,” said Jamar. “If city leaders can’t do something behind all of this then something is wrong.”
Jamar wants his community to be treated the same as other new communities in the area.
He says that he’s lived in this area for over 55 years, and nothing has ever been done to fix the drainage or the sewer system, but he’s hopeful that after Tuesday night’s meeting and through prayer something will finally be done.
Athens city councilman Harold Wales says that the city is working to address the drainage and sewage problem and that crews have completed a survey on a portion of the area.
The city council says that installing new sewer lines to an existing neighborhood could cost close to a million dollars.