Birmingham City Council Highlights 1.30.24

Birmingham City Council
5 min readFeb 2, 2024



On Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council approved an agreement with Bush Hills Connection Inc, under which Councilor Carol Clarke contributed $10,000 from her office’s discretionary funds to assist with the ongoing project.

Councilor Clarke has been an ardent supporter of this philanthropic effort since first being elected in 2021. These funds will help bolster the community garden and urban farming program at the facility.

The Bush Hills Community Garden at the former Woodrow Wilson School is a learning garden for students and residents. In partnership with master gardeners and horticulture agencies/institutions, they plan to host more training sessions and provide hands on guidance to all volunteers. The Bush Hills Neighborhood Garden will continue to enhance the lives of participants by providing lifelong gardening skills and fresh produce for area residents.

“This was a plan that was developed in conjunction with UAB and the Bush Hills Neighborhood Association that’s now turned the former school site into the epicenter of the neighborhood,” Councilor Clarke said. “The school has already been partially reclaimed and repurposed for community spaces and the urban farm, so there is already a lot of great progress being made. I think it’s a shining example of what can be accomplished when a neighborhood comes together with a shared vision.”


The Birmingham City Council approved an agreement with the Penny Foundation to fund the 2024 Future Forward Grant Cycle to assist small businesses across the city.

Council President Darrell O’Quinn, President Pro Tem Wardine Alexander and Councilors Clinton Woods, Crystal Smitherman and LaTonya Tate all contributed $27,500 from their office’s American Rescue Plan Act funding. The Penny Foundation will disperse more than 11 business grants per district in contributions of $1,000 and $2,500 to each organization. The initiative is aimed to assist small businesses respond to the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Proposed use of the grants include:
• Portion of costs to retain employees.
• Mortgage, rent, utilities.
• Design services for future building improvements and developments.
• Building improvements and developments.
• Business Capacity Building — Adaptation
• Other operating costs.

“It’s hard to imagine where we would be as a society without small businesses that are owned and operated by members of our community,” Council President Darrell O’Quinn said. “It’s no secret that these businesses have faced unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. It’s crucial that we continue to rally behind these resilient entrepreneurs, providing them with the support and resources they need to rebuild and thrive once again. Investing in small businesses isn’t just an economic imperative; it’s an investment in the heart and soul of our communities.”

Eligible business applicants must:

• Own a small business with a valid business license in Birmingham’s District One, District Five, District Six, District Seven, or District Nine.
• Be currently active and open for business, and able to show proof of operation before February 15, 2020.
• Agree to implement proposed services or upgrades within one month of the awarded grant.
• Have less than 25 employees (micro-business or small business).
• Agree to use an approved/licensed professional consultant and/or other identified professional service provider.
• Stay in business for one year after receiving the grant or pay the appropriate pro rata share of the funds back to Penny Foundation.

The application portal will be open from February 1st to the 15th. Award winners will be announced at a reception for Future Forward on February 29th. For more information, please visit

ITEMS 5 & 6

The Council approved a pair of agreements with UAB to introduce and expose Birmingham City Schools students to everything from internationally acclaimed dance companies, classical musicians, and Grammy award winning artists at no cost to the families (this is in conjunction with the Alys Stephens Center).

Also, the agreement outlines plans implement a program in partnership with the G. Ross Bell Detention Center to provide programing including music, visual arts, expressive writing, dance and movement to address disparities in educational outcomes with youth at the detention center.

“We know that art builds community and it can help heal the human soul in many ways, which I believe is why they refer to it as the humanities. I’m grateful to have an opportunity to provide this funding for such an important program for our underserved youth,” Councilor Carol Clarke said. “So much of what we see in the news is about our communities suffering, so I think it’s critical for us to have this kind of consistent programing in the arts for our young people who otherwise might not have these opportunities.”

Councilor Carol Clarke provided $50,000 of her office’s American Rescue Plan Act dollars for each of these two programs.

Birmingham Department of Transportation Control Center Tour

Following today’s meeting, members of the Birmingham City Council toured the City’s Department of Transportation’s Traffic Control Center and heard about needed upgrades and capabilities.

Earlier this month the Council approved a resolution for a grant submission seeking $5 million to support and modernize traffic signals along 10 major corridors across the city. The U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration grant would require a 20 percent match from the city and the awardees are expected to be announced later this year.



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