MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Berkley is one of the deep southern towns where nearly everyone is related or considers themselves family. 

Almost all of the decisions about that community are made by its citizens.  

But some residents say the community board, which was once their only means of communication with city leaders, has left them out of key conversations that determine the future of the citizens. 

The Berkley Community Center once served as a school and a sanctuary during the segregation era, but it was torn down in 2018 and not replaced as promised by the Madison County Commission (MCC).

While new infrastructure and new subdivisions are being built, the promise of uplifting the area was buried by the MCC.

“They want you to get on the page with them, but they don’t want to keep you informed at what’s going on,” said Justin Hawkins, a longtime Berkley community member. “We want the council board to go to the commissioner to speak about the things that have not been done here in our community.” 

The missed promise of a new community center is just the beginning.

The Berkley community is one of those places in north Alabama that exists solely because of the people who have lived there for centuries. But residents say that the Berkley Community Board has turned its back on them.  

“The commission has pretty much told us to ourselves if we don’t have a functioning board there’s nothing that he can do about it,” community leader Sherry Collier told News 19.  

Roads with access in and out of town are being shut down instead of making the necessary repairs. The sewer system is antiquated, and residents claim that even burying their loved ones is a challenge. Plots were purchased years ago to bury the elderly, yet those records no longer exist. 

“I know several people that paid in advance for their loved ones to get buried and when something happens, they lose a loved one and have to pay more money on top of them already having to pay – and that’s just not right,” Collier continued.

“The biggest part about it is they don’t have any records of us buying the plots and they are gathering by themselves and making decisions for our community that we are not aware of,” she stated.

Residents would like to elect a new community board, but the community election process was also changed which they say they were not aware of. 

Board Chairman Toney Heathington said in a statement to News 19, “The Berkley Community Council, Inc. (BCCI) has been working diligently with the district commissioner and the members of the Berkley community on all issues and matters.  We will continue to work for the betterment of the community of Berkley.”