Birmingham neighborhood officers sworn in Tuesday night

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 10:48 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham’s mayor and city council came together Tuesday night for a swearing-in ceremony that was not theirs.

They came to support and watch Chief Municipal Judge Andra’ Sparks give the oath of office to citizens elected in October to represent each of Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods.

The city’s Community Organizer Latoya Walker says officers, including many who have served for years, have to be dedicated to their communities in roles that help guide the city.

“They give us feedback on what the city needs,” says Walker. “Things such as the [Crossplex Village] Family Fun Center. They gave us feedback on what they wanted, what they expected out of the city of Birmingham as far as the Crossplex.”

The installation ceremony took place just hours after councilmembers approved plans for spending part of the city’s $81 million surplus on projects including a new amphitheater in North Birmingham and the Family Fun Center. Ensley Highlands President Wayne Wilson says he’s hopeful the Crossplex addition with a planned bowling alley, skating rink and more will attract more private investment to bring businesses to the neighborhood. 

“We welcome it,” says Wilson. “We appreciate it. Our grocery store is supposed to be coming and it’s something for our kids to do something in the, that they can go and enjoy themselves in the community.”

Longtime North Birmingham President Jimmie Coleman says he’s excited about the potential impact of the new amphitheater the council approved for neighboring Druid Hills. But he says they’re working with the city to get more street paving done and support businesses and neighborhood youth.

”One thing I’d like to see the city come back with the police team that would get the young kids off the street for one thing and, uh, just try to try to bring businesses to the neighborhood,” says Coleman. “Grocery stores, banks or something like that in each neighborhood.”

Southside President Paul Godbey says Southside is still feeling the loss of the Western Supermarket next door in Five Points South. He’s hoping that Daniel Corporation announcing plans for luxury apartments to replace the shopping center that housed Western, will benefit Southside as well.

“Particularly with all the additional apartments that have gone up there recently,” says Godbey. “There’s a whole bunch of new people there, and there’s gonna be some more development directly across Highland and the Red Mountain Expressway. So yes, there is a need for some type of market there.”

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