LaFayette mayor reflects on 2022, looks ahead to next year

Published 9:36 am Friday, December 30, 2022

Though the city of LaFayette wrapped up several projects this year, many point to continued growth into 2023, such as beautification and economic revitalization efforts with LaFayette Main Street and a new code enforcement officer.

“It was a pretty good year we had for 2022,” said Mayor Kenneth Vines.

LaFayette has hired a new code enforcement officer, Kim Langley, who will begin in the new year. Vines said he hopes the new officer will help beautify the city by enforcing ordinances on dilapidated buildings.

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“We have some abandoned houses that we really need to get on and take care of,” Vines said.

Also this year, downtown LaFayette was designated as part of the Alabama Main Street Program, which focuses on revitalizing economic development. The LaFayette Main Street board of directors recently named DeAnna Hand the new executive director for the program. Vines said she will begin her role in January.

Over the past year, several businesses have opened in LaFayette, including Gimme Some Sugar. However, Vines said citizens can expect at least two to three new businesses in the new year. Jimmy and Erik Vines’ business is currently under construction down the road from the Family Dollar on Highway 431.

Earlier this year, LaFayette began the process of updating its water treatment plant and water system. However, the city has plans to rebid the project because the funding available is less than the initial bids.

“So we have to go back to the drawing board on that, so that’ll be part of our 2023 project — to update our water and sewage treatment facility,” Vines said.

The process for renovations on the old BB&T building in LaFayette is underway. The city purchased the building to use as a new city hall. Vines said that the city met with an architect for the project on Tuesday and the next step is to send bids out to contractors.

Early in the year, LaFayette City Council implemented a one-cent sales tax, which was a goal for Vines said he had since he came into office. Later, in September, the water and sewage fees were raised as well.

Looking ahead to 2023, Vines said his focus is on the outcome of the federal trial in January for the locations of the Chambers County consolidated high school. Vines hopes the judge will agree with the citizens of LaFayette that the school should be located in a centralized location.

“If we can accomplish that then 2023 is going to be a great year,” Vines said.

Another project at the forefront of 2023 will be the continuation of LaFayette’s sidewalk project. Vines said in the new year LaFayette’s sidewalks will be improved to be more accessible as well as downtown parking.

“We’re working with the state right now. They already got started, but we’re going to do a little bit more on that,” Vines said.

Next year, each council member will receive funds from the American Rescue Fund to devote to their sector.

Vines said the city council is also discussing plans to use a portion of those funds as a gift to the employees who worked through the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the year, the city purchased approximately eight acres of land adjacent to the current cemetery. An ordinance that raises the cemetery fee was implemented. Starting the first of the year, citizens will be able to purchase grave plots.

The city of LaFayette received a grant from the University of Alabama for a neighborhood initiative healing zone to renovate the city park. Vines said citizens can expect the renovations to begin in the first part of the year.

“Other than that, when things come along, we’ll just take care of it as it comes,” Vines said.