Work began last week around the square in Moulton as part of a grant to upgrade the area with underground utilities, new landscaping, new lighting and some new sidewalks.
Business owners and property owners were caught off guard when workmen began removing awnings from buildings.
"I take full blame for the miscommunication," said Moulton City Clerk Shirley Gilley. "We should have talked to the people around the square."
Gilley said property owners knew the work was going to be done but it came quicker than they expected.
The same contractor has the contract for the sidewalk from the Moulton Recreation Center to downtown as well as the work around the square. There is a time limit for the work to be completed. Wet ground has delayed work on the sidewalk.
"The contractor came to me and asked about beginning work on the square during the lag time," Gilley said. "At first when we approved the work, the awnings did not cross my mind."
To put in the underground utilities, the awnings that come all the way out to the street will have to come down so workmen can get the necessary equipment in to do the job.
"I walked the square with the engineer and we discussed what awnings would come down. He said he would leave in place as many as he could," Gilley said. "But in the end, some of the awnings he thought could remain were taken down."
Moulton Mayor Ray Alexander was recovering from surgery when the work on the square began. Gilley was relaying information to him. She admits that communication went astray.
Roslyn McKay, owner of Groundz Zero Cafe on the square said she was happy the town was doing something to improve the square, but thought it could have been handled differently.
"We are all in support of the revitalization of downtown," said McKay. "But there should have been a meeting or communication to discuss what would happen when this started."
The downtown businesses have suffered according to McKay and other business owners on the North side of the square are upset. With parking spots blocked off and demolition on the corners, businesses are afraid the construction will make downtown less attractive to consumers while the project is being completed.
"It's affecting everyone's business downtown," she said.
McKay said the awning above her store's door had to be removed for the project, but she worries that rain may damage the floors inside the building.
She said her husband, Chris McKay, expressed concern over how any damages are handled.
"If there is any kind of rain, our store will flood and damage these hundred-year old floors," Roslyn McKay said. "I don't know how we would handle the situation or when the awnings will be put back in place."
Other merchants and business owners expressed their unhappiness about the situation but declined to be quoted in print.
Some money will be allocated to help replace the awnings but no timetable has been set. Grant money for awning replacement is in the second phase of the grant process and will probably not be available until 2014.
"We will not leave our business owners hanging out on a limb," Alexander promised.