It's not what happens at Montgomery city council meetings that concerns some citizens. It's where the meetings take place. For years, audience members have complained about cramped conditions in the council chamber.
Ida Jean Watkins and K. T. Brown never miss a meeting. But they sometimes wish they had more room. "It's hard to see and also sometimes hard to hear," says Watkins. "We are due a larger place."
"No citizen wants to come down here and stand-up in the aisles, along the walls, or out on the sidewalk," Brown complains.
The council and mayor agree. They appointed an ad-hoc committee recently to study the space issue. One option would be to move council meetings to the old city auditorium--a part of city hall abandoned years ago.
The facility has a rich history. It's where Hank Williams used to sing and was considered the premier gathering place before the advent of the Montgomery Civic Center.
But today, the auditorium is cluttered with files. The walls are crumbling. And on the first floor are city offices. There are also concerns about its structural safety.
For the idea to work, the committee studying the issue must find new locations for the offices that currently occupy the auditorium. It must also find a way to pay for the restoration effort. Members say they may try to have the facility deemed an historic landmark, which would help secure funding.
Watkins and Brown say it's high time the auditorium be restored and put to use. "Our government now has been in existence long enough for us to move from this small place," says Brown.