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Mayor Woodfin strongly opposes concrete facility’s planned move to 5 Points West

THE BIRMINGHAM TIMES — Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced on Tuesday that he is opposed to a concrete company relocating to Five Points West from downtown. Sherman Industries, LLC has requested to place a concrete batch plant at 3420 Fayette Avenue in Five Points West. That will replace the existing facility on Second Avenue South, which has been in operation since the 1950s.

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By Erica Wright

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced on Tuesday that he is opposed to a concrete company relocating to Five Points West from downtown.

Sherman Industries, LLC has requested to place a concrete batch plant at 3420 Fayette Avenue in Five Points West. That will replace the existing facility on Second Avenue South, which has been in operation since the 1950s.

Last week, the City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution opposing the relocation. On Tuesday, Woodfin joined the council and neighborhood residents in fierce opposition to the move.

“As the mayor of Birmingham, I don’t want Sherman Industries concrete company relocated to the West End,” he said emphatically.

Woodfin said he also wanted to “set the record straight” on information that has been distributed about his office in connection to Sherman Industries. “I, nor anyone from my office, have met with Sherman Industries and the first time my office had contact with the company was on May 1st of last week when they reached out to us via email and requested a meeting,” said the mayor.

Woodfin said the concrete company also has not followed the proper steps in doing business in the city. “They have not met with me or anyone in my senior staff,” he said.

Woodfin did say he supports a public hearing, but that is just a first step. “I am in no position nor have the power to rezone that area but you do,” he told councilors, “and I believe it is incumbent upon all of us to unite and protect our residents from environmental injustice of any kind.”

The Jefferson County Department of Health (JCDH) will hold a public hearing at the CrossPlex at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6.

Walladeen Streeter, Bush Hills Neighborhood Association president, who lives in the area, said her residents will need help from the mayor and council.

“We on the western side of town, do not welcome Sherman Industries to our community . . . our health is very important just like yours and theirs,” Streeter told the council. “They show no concern to the citizens of the western area and we’re very upset about that because we are human… and they’re bringing the problems to us. We have children all around that area, we have new restaurants coming and the smoke, the dust goes right out there to them. We need you and we’re asking you to support us in every way that you can to stop that from happening.”

April Williams, a resident of the Bush Hills Neighborhood, said there is nothing good about a cement plant being in a high-dense residential area. “I’m not proposing it being in any residential area, but if it’s not good for Railroad Park and that area, surely we all agree it’s not good for CrossPlex and the Five Points West area.”

In a statement reported by AL.com, Kurt Milliman, Vice President and General Manager of Sherman Industries, said the company, “is committed to operating in a safe and responsible manner. We intend to be good neighbors and comply with all safety and environmental regulations that protect the health and safety of our employees and neighbors.”

In other business Tuesday, Councilor Clinton Woods drafted a resolution opposing the Alabama lottery bill without education funding.

Alabama is only one of eight states without a lottery and last week, the Alabama Senate passed a bill that would allow for a state lottery. It is now waiting for a vote in the House of Representatives.

Most lotteries across the county have money earmarked for education. Under Alabama’s proposal, the proceeds from the lottery, after administrative costs and payouts, would go into the state’s Trust Fund and General Funds.

Alabama is currently ranked 47th in the nation for education and estimated annual revenue from the lottery will be roughly $167 million.

“Here in Birmingham, I think it’s important to look at the additional needs we have when it comes to education, when we consider less than 20 percent of our students are reading at grade level and while Alabama has the number one pre-K program in the nation, all children don’t have access to it,” he said.

Council President Valerie Abbott said, “We talk about workforce development, jobs and our youth and this bill does nothing to help our youth with education. We have so many young people who can’t read at grade level and we do have a wonderful, nationally-recognized pre-K program that’s not available to all children in the state, so to me, this is an important thing.”

The council plans to send its resolution to Montgomery before the House votes.

This article originally appeared in The Birmingham Times.

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Activism

Call to Protect Geoffrey’s Inner Circle from Threatened High-Rise Development

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by reso-lution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and cul-ture of Oakland.

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By Ken Epstein

Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, a downtown Oakland Cultural Center that has featured live jazz and served music lovers and the Black community for decades, is now under threat from a proposed real estate development that could undermine the stability and future of the facility.

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by resolution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and culture of Oakland.

Now, the Oakland Planning Commission is considering a high-rise building proposed by out-of-town developers next to Geoffrey’s, which would jeopardize both the survival of the venue and the Black business district as a whole.

In addition to running a business that has been a crucial institution in the local community and the regional arts scene, Geoffrey Pete, founder, has utilized his business to offer meals for thousands of unsheltered individuals and hosted countless community events.

The following petition is being circulated in defense of Geoffrey’s and the Black Arts district (To add your name to the petition, email info@geoffreyslive.com):

“The African-American community in Oakland has been seriously damaged by developers and public offcials who are willing and sometimes eager to see African Americans disappear from the city. Black people comprised 47% of the population in 1980; now they make up only 20% of said population. In response to this crisis the 14th Street Corridor from Oak to the 880 Frontage Road was established as the Black Arts Movement and Business District by the City Council on Jan. 7, 2016, in Resolution 85958.

Tidewater, an out-of-town developer, is proposing to build a high-rise building at 1431 Franklin, which will damage the Black business district and the businesses in the area including the iconic business of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle at 410 – 14th St.

We demand that the Planning Commission and the City Council reject this predatory building proposal and proceed with plans to fund and enhance the Black Business District.”

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Bay Area

IRS Extends Filing Dates in Counties Under Federal Emergency Declarations

The announcement affects residents in Alameda, Marin, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Monterey, Napa, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, the IRS said.

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Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.
Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.

By Katy St. Clair, Bay City News Foundation

The Internal Revenue Service has extended its annual tax return due date by a month for people who live in areas impacted by the recent storms, the IRS announced on Tuesday.

California storm victims now have until May 15 to file their individual or business taxes if their area was declared an emergency by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The announcement affects residents in Alameda, Marin, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Monterey, Napa, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma counties, the IRS said. A full list of counties can be found at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-in-disaster-situations.

Eligible taxpayers will also have until May 15 to make 2022 contributions to their IRAs and health savings accounts.

Taxpayers will not have to do anything to initiate the extension, the IRS said, and do not have to contact the agency to get this relief.

Some other extensions are being granted to farmers, those who pay quarterly estimated payments, and those who pay quarterly payroll and excise taxes. To learn more, go to irs.gov.

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Bay Area

City Fails to Win $182 Million Federal Grant for Oakland A’s Howard Terminal Project

Opponents said the lack of a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Transportation “shows the lack of credibility — likely based on concerns over safety, economic viability, disruptions to port traffic and supply chains, echoed by maritime stakeholders — for the future of the project with key public transportation and political stakeholders that should prompt an overall re-evaluation.”

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A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure.
A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure.

By Keith Burbank | Bay City News

Oakland may miss out on millions of dollars in grant money that could advance the Oakland A’s proposed ballpark at the city’s port.

The U.S. Department of Transportation failed to recommend that Oakland get $182.9 million in the initial round of funding for the city’s Waterfront Mobility Project. Oakland has not received official word that it was denied the grant money.

The city has been securing dollars for the offsite infrastructure needed to support a new ballpark at the Charles P. Howard Terminal.

“While we are disappointed to have not been selected in the first round, we believe we put forward a strong application and are well positioned to secure other funding sources,” said Fred Kelley, director of the Oakland Department of Transportation. “We will continue to pursue other funding sources to ensure our projects have the resources they need.”

Oakland applied for grant money through the Mega Grant Program, which funds “large, complex projects that are difficult to fund by other means and likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits.”

The ballpark proposed by the Oakland A’s would seat about 35,000 people, and the development overall consists of new housing, parkland, an entertainment venue and commercial space.

Not everyone wants the A’s to build a new park at the Port of Oakland. Groups have come together in opposition, hoping to have the A’s build a new park in East Oakland at the current Oakland Coliseum site.

Groups led by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association sued to stop Oakland from issuing a required environmental impact report for the proposed ballpark.

The opponents said the lack of a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Transportation “shows the lack of credibility — likely based on concerns over safety, economic viability, disruptions to port traffic and supply chains, echoed by maritime stakeholders — for the future of the project with key public transportation and political stakeholders that should prompt an overall re-evaluation.”

A city document suggests $600 million will be needed for offsite infrastructure. The city has secured or is in the process of securing more than $320 million of that money, according to city documents published in December.

Former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was a strong supporter of the project.

New Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said at her inauguration Monday that she will work with the Oakland A’s on a deal to keep the team in Oakland while protecting Oakland values.

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