Pelham mayor seeking funding for city storm shelters

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham Mayor Don Murphy said during a June 20 City Council meeting he would like to see several public-use storm shelters constructed throughout the city in the wake of Alabama’s deadly April 27 tornado outbreak.

During the meeting, Murphy said he has already begun seeking funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to construct public emergency storm shelters in several locations throughout the city.

“I’d like to see several shelters scattered throughout the city,” Murphy said. “I’m convinced storm shelters are a good thing, and I am going to work to get them here.”

Murphy’s comments came about two months after a wave of tornadoes destroyed several parts of the state and killed hundreds. Murphy said a city storm shelter saved more than 100 people in Phil Campbell, even though the town was nearly destroyed.

“Some people criticized them when they first built that shelter,” Murphy said. “But all 150 people in there survived the tornado.”

Murphy also said he would like to see the City Council amend the city’s building ordinance to require all new homes built in Pelham to contain a storm shelter or storm room.

“We were lucky that we didn’t have a storm here,” Murphy said. “We don’t have storm shelters in Pelham, and I think we should.”

In other business, the council:

-Agreed to meet with several residents of the Royal Chase subdivision to discuss possibly tying 13 houses to the city’s sewer lines.

Last year, the council passed a motion declaring the aging sewer lift station currently serving the homes is private property and its upkeep is the responsibility of the neighborhood developer and homeowners.

Before the council passed the motion, several Royal Chase homeowners approached the city and asked Pelham to assume ownership of and repair the lift station.

“This is different. The developer and the residents are saying they are willing to pay to connect to the city’s sewer line,” said Councilwoman Teresa Nichols.

However, Murphy said he has had issues while working with the homeowners in the past.

“I sat down with them two years ago and said ‘Let’s work through this.’ They said ‘It’s your problem, we’re leaving,’” Murphy said of the homeowners. “They weren’t willing to pay for anything when I met with them.

“I’m willing to help them, but I’m not going to let those folks talk me into rushing this and putting this on the top burner, because I tried to help them two years ago,” Murphy added.

The council will meet with the affected homeowners at 5:30 p.m. during its July 11 work session.

-Authorized the expenditure of $12,500 for the replacement of a 7.5-ton heating and air conditioning unit at the Pelham Public Library.

-Authorized an additional $10,359.56 to be spent in the Ball Park Road sidewalk construction project due to cost overruns and change orders. The extra money is completely reimbursable through federal funds, said Councilman Steve Powell.