Not all happy with city plans

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 20, 2000

Neighbors are expressing concerns about plans to move some cityoperations to the old National Guard armory facility on Highway 51,but city officials say the move is only a “temporary measure.”

With indications that the city street and sanitation departmentswould be moving to the old armory after a new one is completed onHighway 84, concerns raised have included the possibility ofdeclining property values, area appearance and others. A petitionbegan circulating last week to oppose the move.

“We just don’t need that in the middle of town as an entrance toour town,” said Shirley Johnson, who owns property across from thearmory.

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Johnson said Highway 51 is a main thoroughfare, and she fearedhaving the street and sanitation departments there would cast a badimpression.

“Why would we want that there?” she asked. “That doesn’t make abit of sense.”

When asked about department-moving plans, Mayor Bill Godboldsaid he had received one call about the moves. He said only thestreet department is planned to be moved to the armory, mainlybecause of radio tower benefits, and it is “temporary measure”although he did not indicate the duration of the stay.

Contrary to some concerns, Godbold said the sanitationdepartment would not be going to the old armory.

“We’re not thinking about moving the sanitation department(there),” Godbold said. “We’re going to move it to the landfill tostart with.”

Godbold indicated the street department could also eventuallywind up at the landfill.

City department moves may be needed with the city pursuingfunding for a new intermodal transportation center planned for thearea around their current locations on Willard Street. In a letterto the editor published in the DAILY LEADER last week, Godbold saidusing the old armory would save the city the cost of building a newcity barn, which he said is desperately needed now.

Johnson still had some concerns about the city departmentmove.

“It just depends on what they’re going to put over there,”Johnson said. “It’s still going to increase traffic, but not as badas having the sanitation department there.”

John Richardson, a former alderman who lives in the area aroundthe armory, said it was logical to have the sanitation departmentat the landfill. His understanding was that the street and trafficdepartments would be at the armory.

“I don’t object to it, and I don’t think the rest of theneighborhood would object,” Richardson said, adding that he wouldfight “tooth and nail” against the garbage operation locatingthere.

Ed Norton, who owns a business near the armory, said the areahas been built up as a commercial area, and it should remain thatway. He did not think having the city street operation would begood for businesses, residents around the armory or nearby healthcare facilities.

“We feel like this would be a setback for us,” Norton said.

Norton left some room for acceptance with only the streetdepartment at the armory. However, that too would be different fromthe armory’s current limited use by the guard.

“It’s going to be on a daily basis,” Norton said about streetdepartment operation.

Norton and Johnson also mentioned the possibility of decliningproperty values as a result of increased traffic and lack of upkeepof the armory property. They cited the appearance of the currentWillard Street property.

“That tells you something right there,” Johnson said.

Norton said the mayor and aldermen had done a number of goodthings for the community. Regarding the armory, though, hesuggested the city sell or lease it for activities such as variousshows that will bring people to town.

Norton did not think the city department move would be in thebest interest of the neighborhood and community.

“It’s going to have more negative implications than positiveimplications,” Norton said.