Interest in issue bring residents to council
During the special meeting of the Amite Council held Monday, January 26, the Amite Town Council agreed to have a study done on Highway 16 for the possibility of four-laning the area from South Second Street (Jr. Food Mart) to South Duncan. Even though this was a resolution for a study, it brought over 30 people to the Amite City Hall on Tuesday, February 3, which is a rare oddity. Amite residents very rarely attend town meetings. Many of these in attendance were local business owners that came to protest the possibility of four-laning.
After two public hearings, Mayor Reggie Goldsby opened the regular meeting and allowed public input. Amite Chamber member Heather Williams-Cavaretta and President Mike Case were the first of many to express comments opposing the prospect.
Cavaretta stated that the Chamber had been informed that many of the downtown businesses are incredibly upset about the possibility to four-lane Hwy. 16 and that they are not in agreement at all. "This might go against our goals, which ya'll have supported, to bring businesses here," stated Cavaretta.
Ken Anderson, with his wife Madonna, of Dunn's Printing was the first business owner to speak out. "We have been fighting a losing battle with drainage for the 20 something years that we've been here. That should come before four-laning," stated Anderson.
He also made a comparison to downtown Hammond. "There are some areas that are parallel parking that when you open your door, you open it into traffic. The drainage issue is major. I just can't understand this idea. I want someone to explain how it will work!" stated Anderson.
Johnny Cooper of Cooper's Bakery was the next concerned business owner to speak out. "The day it comes, I move!" Cooper stated. He explained that on any given morning that his business is open, he has a long line of customers. "Really think about this. To me traffic is commerce, no traffic, no business," he added.
"There has been a many a time that traffic will be stopped, due to the train, that people have gotten out of their cars, came in and purchased something, went got back in their vehicle and went on. I've been here about 25 1/2 years. And I can't survive if this is approved!" Cooper ended.
Bill Irwin of Tangi Barber Shop, located on NE Central Ave. next door to the vet clinic, was the next to speak. He stated, "At this time there is ample parking for my business and many others, I'd like it to stay that way. We're all connected. Please take a better look at that."
Mike Petitto of Spitale's Restaurant was the final business owner to speak out. "My business is different from all of the others here. It thrives at night. People here can't parallel park. Our parking is not always a given. The town doesn't want this. Why would ya'll do this? Study Mulberry, where there's another option, do like Hammond. It may cost a little more money . . . We're getting progress, don't wreck it," stated Petitto.
He also added that since the increase in sales tax from Walmart it seemed to him that the council had, "forgotten that before Walmart moved in it was us business owners that were paying the bills with our taxes."
Mayor Goldsby closed the public input portion of the meeting and opened with the approval of minutes and the resolution that was passed for the study of four-laning Hwy. 16. Councilman Neil Currier objected to the approval of the resolution stating that he felt the wording was not correct. Councilman Walter Daniels stated that he asked for it to be added that a study of Mulberry and Oak to be done as well. It was agreed by the entire council and mayor that the resolution be corrected before approval. This add in will look into alternative mens to four-laning downtown. Also, later in the meeting Councilman Mark Vining asked the entire council be able to see the fully prepared resolution before it is sent anywhere. The council and mayor agreed and the full council will have a say so on the matter.