Mayor Ron Anders and members of Auburn's City Council expressed their disgust at the death of George Floyd and their pride in the Auburn community's response at a City Council meeting Tuesday night.
“To see a young man die in front of our eyes is appalling, and the way he died was disgusting,” Anders said. “Last Sunday, our community came together to raise our voices to say … this bothers us and we want to do something about it.”
Anders said he was proud of the community for the civil and emotional protest that took place on Sunday. He attended the protest for an hour and fifteen minutes.
“I don’t know everything I need to know, and I don’t have all the empathy I need to have,” Anders said. “For me, personally, I’m seeking ways to have conversations … trying to understand the real hurt of the people in our community.”
Ward 4 Council member Brett Smith, Ward 6 Council member Bob Parsons and Ward 1 Council member Connie Fitch-Taylor attended Sunday’s protest.
“I would like to see us grow closer as a City,” Fitch-Taylor said. “Violence and racism will not be tolerated, regardless of who it is in our City. [We do not want to] encounter situations similar to Birmingham and Atlanta.”
During Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Anders also reminded the community that Friday is National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Multiple Council members wore orange to bring awareness.
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Ward 2 Council member Kelley Griswold spoke his support to rename Mike Hubbard Blvd to Bent Creek Road. He reminded community members that they can submit proposals to change the street name further.
“[The street renaming] is a minor issue compared to the pressing issues of student housing, short-term rentals, board appointments and the world pandemic,” Parsons said. “[This was] low on the totem pole of importance … but was regularly brought to our attention.”
Ward 8 Council member Tommy Dawson stated he would vote against the name change as he is in support of changing the name to Robert Pitts Blvd. Fitch-Taylor also heard requests from her constituents to rename the street Robert Pitts Blvd.
The vote to change the street name passed with only Dawson objecting. Witten and Smith recused themselves from the discussion and the vote.
Anders announced that a high school student from Montgomery recently drowned in Chewacla State Park last week.
Auburn also saw the death of Auburn University football coach Pat Dye.
“Besides helping us beat Alabama, he did a lot for our community as far as giving us confidence, a vision and making us believe in ourselves,” Anders said. “He showed up at a time where the City and the University were not in the best shapes they could be in … he loved all parts of our community, and he will certainly be missed.”
Ward 5 Council member Steven Dixon announced his plan for honoring graduating high school students through videos, radio advertisements, on electronic billboards and advertisements in The Auburn Villager. The radio ads and electronic billboards are currently running the City’s ads.
Ward 3 Council member Beth Witten announced that June is Pride Month. She asked for the community to show support to their LGBTQ neighbors.
Anders reminded the community that the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, with the City seeing a “slight uptick” in new cases.
“Keep your distance, keep your hand washed and keep your distance from people that … are at the most risk,” Anders said. “We can’t get sloppy.”
Two more businesses were unanimously approved for the City’s loan interest subsidy program. Seventeen businesses in total have been approved since April 21.
Council unanimously approved amendments to zoning ordinances for the Cox Road and Wire Road Corridor. Houses will be able to be built on one acre instead of three, said planning director Forrest Cotten.
The City is not rezoning the region, but it will allow for residents to request the zoning change, Cotton said. The zone will serve as a transition between urban and rural areas of the City.
At the end of the meeting, Anders said that future City Council meetings should be held in the new City Council chambers. It will be the first time in 40 years for Council meetings to be moved.
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