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Council, church make deal on street closure

Members of the Bainbridge City Council reached a compromise with the First Baptist Church, which had asked to permanently close a block of Clay Street running between the church’s property.

The council took no action Tuesday night on First Baptist Church’s request to close Clay Street, between its intersection with E. Shotwell Street and the end of its property, about 200 feet south. However, the council voted unanimously to allow the church to temporarily close the street during its active times on Wednesday and Sunday of each week, in addition to other special occasions.

Rev. Paul Medley, the church’s pastor, spoke first during a public hearing the council held on the street closure request. Medley said the church made the request out of concern for the safety of its members and others who use the church’s buildings on a regular basis. He said the church is active at other times besides Wednesday and Sunday, when it holds religious services and other church-related meetings.

Citizen Jodi Brown spoke against the church’s request, saying she travels on Clay Street twice per day on weekdays to take her child to and from Hutto Middle School on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Brown said she also regularly visits businesses near Clay Street’s intersections with Water and Broughton streets. Brown closed by stating her belief that allowing the church to close a street adjacent to its property would lead to other large churches attempting to do the same.

City Councilwoman Roslyn Palmer, who suggested a compromise, said she agreed with Brown and said she had encountered “strong opinions” on both sides.