City could purchase then destroy historic Dothan homes

Garden District flooding issues persist, and this may be the only viable option, some believe
Garden District flooding issues persist, and this may be the only viable option, some believe
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 10:20 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The city of Dothan could spend millions to purchase homes in its most historic neighborhood only to demolish those structures.

“Storm (water drainage) fills up and it goes above ground and that’s what is happening there,” Commissioner David Crutchfield (Dist. 6) said of the Garden District.

Some believe the best option is to purchase properties then tear them down to create water retention areas and improve drainage that lacks so badly roads become impassible.

But a proposal to purchase two homes along Tacoma Street on Tuesday stalled amid concerns that things may be moving too swiftly.

Those properties are owned by Justin and Heather Wade and Joe and Lanelle Smith, respectively.

Up to a dozen other properties are eyed, most of them along Cherokee Avenue, Plaza Drive, and Oak Drive.

“I want to make sure it is the right thing to do (though) I understand it is the most economically feasible thing to do,” is how Commissioner John Ferguson (Dist. 4) sees things.

But he admits the city is obligated to deal with those flooding issues.

The first choice had been an elaborate system that included underground drainage pipes, but cost estimates greatly exceeded projections.

“(The home purchasing plan) which had previously been discussed came back on the table…which is not my first choice but, by far, the most feasible,” Crutchfield said.

However, that plan is on hold for at least two weeks.

“I’m not saying I’m against this project, but I want to get more information on what we’re doing (before) we get in the business of buying homes,” Commissioner Aristotle Kirkland (Dist. 2) told News 4.

The home purchases that would have been considered Tuesday had a combined price tag of $715,500, 90 percent of appraised value, according to City General Services Director Tommy Wright.

Several other Garden District properties are also eyed, per Wright.

He said some of those homeowners are not interested in selling, while others are considering offers.

One home, also on Tacoma Street, has already been purchased by the city.

Kirkland, midway through his first term, claims he had not been aware of Garden District flooding issues which he believes were largely discussed before his 2021 election.

Commissioners tabled the purchase of those two Tacoma Street homes until January 17.

Crutchfield points out the city now has enforceable guidelines that significantly reduce flooding possibilities in newer subdivisions.

Neither Mayor Mark Saliba nor Commissioner Bradley Bedwell (Dist. 3) attended Tuesday’s meeting due to other obligations.

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