From the moment the portion of Ann Street that runs through District 3 had been completely refurbished, Councilman C.J. Small has had a one-track mind. He has been on a mission to find the funding needed to fix up Baltimore Street.
On Thursday morning, Small was able to announce the goal coming to fruition, as he stood alongside Mayor Sandy Stimpson, County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood and others at the intersection of Washington Avenue, Baltimore and Broad streets.
“This is a great, great occasion,” he said. “This is a great morning in Mobile, Alabama.”
Small announced the beginning of work to revitalize the west side of Baltimore Street with a $6.7 million project aimed at fixing the infrastructure underneath the road, resurfacing the street and adding sidewalks alongside it. The funds came from District 3 capital improvement program dollars, county pay-as-you-go money and $1.75 millon from the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System.
In his remarks, Small said for as long as he can remember Baltimore Street has had issues with potholes that ruin the tires and the alignment of vehicles. He said he was always told it was due to a lack of city money. Given his own bad experiences frequently traveling down the roadway, he made it his mission to find the money to fix the problems.
When an extension of the city’s 1-cent sales tax increase was approved by the Mobile City Council, he knew he’d have an opportunity to make those changes, he said.
Other local elected leaders took notice of his vision, too. Ludgood told the crowd of reporters and onlookers that everytime she met with Small he asked about Baltimore Street.
“It was always on his mind,” she said. “It took us a minute to get here, but we’re here now.”
Ludgood also thanked the residents who live along Baltimore Street for their history of advocacy for the Oakdale neighborhood.
“We need more communities to speak up and say “we’re here and we need some help,” she said.
Stimpson credited Small for his drive to accomplish the project. The mayor said Small used all $3 million in annual CIP funding to help make it a reality.
“He was the only councilor who said “I want all my district’s money to go to one project,” Stimpson said. “He wanted to do something transformational.”
Stimpson said when residents look back in 10 to 20 years, they’ll realize how “transformational” the project will be. On that same note, Small mentioned the importance of the corridor in relation to its proximity to the city’s downtown airport at the Brookley Aeroplex, which officials plan to make the city’s main passenger terminal in a few years.
“This isn’t just good for District 3,” Small said. “This is good for all of Mobile and the tourists who visit.”
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