During the city council meeting on Monday, several citizens within the community of Ashford, AL, took to the podium to voice several concerns about the lack of maintenance and upkeep by the city pertaining to the roads, a public park, and housing issues in the African American community.
Carole Barfield, who is the current sitting mayor, and several council members, according to citizens, were put on notice yet again that the conditions they are allowing to continue are now simply out of hand.
Bennie Teague, a long time citizen of Ashford, stated she and several others recently held a function at the Frank Larkin Park in Ashford and voiced that it’s a shame for women to have to sit down on the disgusting toilets in the restroom.
She voiced that they aren’t doing anything to maintain and keep the park’s restroom facilities in decent working condition.
Mrs. Teague also stated that speed bumps were needed on 7th Ave in Ashford were she lives. She informed the council due to the lack of speed bumps that the past weekend her dog was hit and killed while also expressing she could have been hit herself.
Copeland Foster, another long-time citizen of Ashford, informed the council that last year she brought to their attention an abandoned house and car located in the vicinity of her home that has not been addressed.
Mrs. Foster began to give details of how the abandoned possessions are causing a terrible flea and dead animal issue, which is an endangerment to the health of her and her two small grandchildren.
She also informed the council of who owns the property and relayed to the mayor that last year she turned that particular information over to the town clerk.
Richard Bolden, who is a well-known citizen of Ashford, who has been a strong voice in the community, and has attended the council meetings for years, also drove home the terrible unsafe conditions of the Frank Lark Park and made the contrast between the city allocating funds to other parks to make sure they are safe and attractive.
He then began to drive home that simply because the Frank Larkin park is located in the black community doesn’t mean that black citizens are the only ones who utilize it.
He stated people from all backgrounds utilize the park regularly, and the refusal of the council to add safe and suitable equipment for children to play, along with the neglect of the restroom facilities, is absurd and ridiculous.
Other concerns Mr. Bolden touched on that has plagued the community for years and continues to be ignored and go unaddressed by the council is the lack of proper drainage systems, the refusal of the city to pave the roads, the rubbish the city has allowed to overtake a well known black cemetery and other issues.
The lack of assistance and help to these issues has caused genuine frustration and continued distrust.
During the meeting, citizens can be heard telling the mayor and council they need help over there, referring to the black community and reinforcing that they aren’t doing anything to take care of the needs of the citizens.
It was brought to the council’s attention by Mr. Bolden that a lot of funds have been invested into the beautification and upkeep of downtown Ashford while other areas are going untouched.
He expressed to them, “you invest in what you care about.”