During a work session before the council’s meeting, Mayor Johnny Smith said the plan is to take the parking lot out so the trail can reconnect across the highway. Several residents have voiced concerns that cars entering or leaving the lot could hit cyclists.
Smith said shrubbery and new asphalt will be put down and park benches and picnic tables will also be added. But the tree growing in the middle of the trail will have to be cut down, Smith said.
Councilman Mark Jones and councilman Truman Norred suggested designing the new trailhead around the tree or moving the tree to another location. Smith said both were impossible.
“We wanted to keep it originally but there wasn’t enough room to keep it there without killing it,” he said.
Smith told the council the Alabama division of the Federal Highway Administration agreed to their proposed changes.
The council also voted to change the zoning classification of four properties from “multiple family residential” to “business.”
All of the properties are owned by Jane Self Burnham. They include 110, 114 and 116 Mountain St. NW and 419 Spring Ave. NW. According to Jones, the Jacksonville Planning Commission approved the change in a prior meeting.
“We felt it would be a progressive move for our city,” he said.
There was no mention during the meeting of possible businesses interested in the properties, and efforts to reach Burnham were unsuccessful Monday evening.
Before the decision, Jacksonville resident Sandra Kelly said she was afraid rezoning the properties would result in historical trees being cut down.
Jones couldn’t say whether any of the buildings or trees on the properties will be historically preserved by future owners, but said he would like to see the trees stay put.
“I would like to see some of the trees but as far as the buildings, I don’t know,” he said.
During the open comments portion of the meeting, the council received praise from Jerry Klug for its participation in the cleanup of the Mill Village area.
Klug said he and other residents were concerned with the Mill Village area because of alleged gang activity, messy alleyways and water ruts that attracted mosquitoes.
“A lot of people who live there just don’t care,” Klug said.
Klug said the council, the mayor and the city’s street and utility departments took less than a week to clean up the area, for which he is appreciative.
Councilwoman Sandra Sudduth and Jones said they were appreciative residents came to them with concerns.
“A lot of citizens don’t come to us so we don’t know,” Sudduth said.
“Safety is so important in our city,” Jones said.
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.