City Council to vote on Generational Plan

Tuscaloosa City Council members voted to endorse the Tuscaloosa Forward Generational Master Plan during their weekly meeting on Tuesday.

The plan outlines the method of recovery for areas ravaged by the April tornadoes of last year, including road realignment, creation of new walking trails and an updated building code designation among other proposals.

“By adopting this plan, we now have a blueprint for how we rebuild Tuscaloosa from here,” councilwoman Cynthia Lee Almond said. “It serves to guide us as we move forward. It’s not just for tomorrow or even five years from now, but 10 or even 20 years down the road.”

The adoption of this plan may quiet comparisons between the recovery rates of Tuscaloosa and Joplin, Mo., which were catalyzed by a Wall Street Journal article by UA professor David Beito and Daniel J. Smith.

The article, which claimed that Joplin’s speed of recovery has been more effective than that of Tuscaloosa, sparked much debate from Tuscaloosa citizens. Included in the number of angry residents is Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, who stated in an April 16 letter that the article contained several mistakes, misrepresenting the city’s rebuilding process.

During the city council meeting on Tuesday, many city employees refuted claims that Joplin has been more active in moving forward from the disaster.

“I would never compare these two cities,” John Brook, an Incident Command co-commander for the city of Tuscaloosa, said. “What’s to compare? The only comparison is that both of these cities were hurt.”

John McConnell, director of planning and development services, asked how one could even define recovery.

“It’s not just businesses or homes that were destroyed,” McConnell said. “A whole community was destroyed — people and churches and schools.”

However, another co-incident commander, Robin Edgeworth, believes there is one common trait of both storm-torn towns.

“Both Tuscaloosa and Joplin are similar in that the citizens have been very aggressive, spirited, compassionate and driven in the recovery process,” she said. “While we are going down two separate recovery paths, people are truly invested in them. We are heading in the same direction, but there are just two ways of getting there.”

Edgeworth also warns citizens of wishing for a speedy recovery.

“Just think of the three little pigs,” she said. “You can do things quick, but it’s not guaranteed that it’s going to be successful.”

However, city employees do agree that both Tuscaloosa and Joplin communities will grow from the experience of collecting themselves after the storms.

“The story of both of the storms is one of helping each other,” Brook said. “It’s about the spirit of community and celebrating the things we have in common.”

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