There was obvious tension at the Uniontown City Council on Monday, August 15th, when representatives for Gulf Coast Underground once again failed to appear before the City Council. For the past few months, the company has been digging up Uniontown streets and roads as part of a larger project to help the Uniontown sewage and water systems. Despite the City and GCU both being involved in structuring the future plans for the Uniontown water system, after months of work, Gulf Coast Underground still has not purchased a permit to dig. There are also issues regarding the work being done- many citizens in Uniontown have concerns that the oddly structured agreement with GCU allows the company to tear up the City’s roads without repairing them.
Indeed there are many citizens who have reported that their roads have been dug up and left in poor condition, with the company leaving crusher run, a type of gravel, where asphalt was. At the City Council meeting, Councilman Donald Miller floated the possibility that perhaps this was a first step in lengthier repairs. Councilman Carlton Lewis denounced the situation and made a motion that the Council make GCU halt any digging operations until a GCU representative appeared before the Council and explained the long term plan. “You can’t come into any city in America and just start digging. We cannot be second rate.” Councilman Lewis said.
After some debate however, the motion failed despite mostly agreement from the entire Council. The motion ended up failing 2-3. In the case of the 3 “no” votes, all three agreed there was some cause for suspicion and that the matter needed to be dealt with. But they also said they didn’t like the idea of how halting the digging and possibly interfering with a $31 million dollar grant would look to their constituents. “I don’t want anyone to think I’m stopping the $31 million dollar grant.” Councilwoman Kimberly Bell said. Some of the attendees asked for Mayor Chris Jones to step in and cast a vote to tie and allow for continued debate but Mayor Jones declined the option. This is just the first decision made following a series of debates and discussions at Uniontown City Council meetings regarding GCU and the digging. The issue is far from settled and this decision is likely to be the first of many as the tension builds in Uniontown.