Ensley business owners react to Mayor Bell’s plans for Ensley revival

ENSLEY, Ala. (WIAT) — Mayor William Bell announced a proposal on Wednesday to bring municipal courts as well as  Birmingham Police and Fire headquarters to the heart of Ensley.

“People have to eat, people need to shop and people have got to do things,” said Mayor Bell. “We need all that to create an economic vitality that has been long missing in this community.”

With a new multi-million dollar plan to bring police and fire headquarters to Ensley – current business owners like Antonio Spurling are excited about what could be.

“’Hope deferred maketh the heart sick’,” Spurling said. “So any time people are hopeful for something and it does not manifest, it just continues to depress.”

But that cautious optimism forces even Spurling to consider the benefits of bettering the economy and reducing crime.

“It will signal very clearly to merchants that you can come into this community,” Spurling said. “It will open a beacon of light, and open a floodgate of opportunity to come and occupy some of these buildings that have been dilapidated and distressed and need to be reactivated to revitalize this community.”

The streets and people of Ensley are ready for change as they hold on to hope their community can be brought back to life – but they understand there is a price for hope.

“It’s really going to weigh heavily on the mayor to make this happen and the council to join the effort to make it happen,” Spurling said. “Because it really broadens the footprint of the city, that the city is more comprehensive in its efforts to revitalize.”

This is just a proposal – and now the mayor is preparing for a potential battle with city council to approve this measure – Johnathan Austin has already expressed some discontent with mayor saying that he didn’t speak with the council president about his plans.

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