By Nathan Prewett
For the Tribune
BIRMINGHAM – Discussion at Tuesday’s meeting of the Birmingham City Council mostly revolved around a proposed rescinding of a contract with Bethel Ensley Action Task, Inc. for what was called “Affordable Housing Development.”
In the agreement, BEAT was to engage in a project to construct nine housing units in the Enon Ridge neighborhood of downtown Birmingham. The city would provide up to $1,500,000 for the project. However, Councilor Marcus Lundy, of District 9, has recently voiced concerns about what he said was BEAT’s failure to complete two houses in the neighborhood.
Lundy submitted an addendum to the agenda to rescind the contract with BEAT. Councilor Lashunda Scales was in agreement with Lundy.
“It is not the job of the council to be the watchdog to make sure these projects happen anywhere,” she said. “That’s not what we’re called to do. And it’s a shame that we’re in this position.”
At the last meeting, Community Development Director John Colon said that the houses had been built but that one house was lacking an air conditioner. He had also said that part of the reason for the delay is that the lead contractor had fallen ill.
“If the builder gets sick and stops the show, then that entity is not the right entity for the city to be in business with,” Lundy said at the council meeting, citing other projects that have been completed by other contractors. He added that the agreement, which was signed in May 2015 and were given until May 2017 to follow through.
Lundy said that because of “attrition” in the leadership and the illness of the lead contractor they should have been given more time, but they had not written to the city to ask for more time as stated in the contract.
“We just allowed them by way of non-compliance to continue this delinquency,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for us to say, ‘no we’re going to put this on the street, put it in a bid and let the best person win.”
Councilor Valerie Abbot suggested that the item be withdrawn and that the council come back to the issue at a later date. Councilor Kim Rafferty made a similar suggestion, saying that the contract should be looked over. The item was eventually withdrawn from the agenda.
In other business, the council approved a resolution to allow travel for Toby Richards, who is curator of the Negro Southern League Museum, to Budapest Hungary on Aug. 30 to Sept. 7 to attend “Curator for Exhibition and Research for Center for Negro League (Sister City Project)” The travel is at no cost.