City making progress on Avondale Mills site
by David Atchison
Aug 29, 2013 | 2918 views |  0 comments | 78 78 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City workers continue to clean up the former Avondale Mills plant site, which the city now owns.
City workers continue to clean up the former Avondale Mills plant site, which the city now owns.
PELL CITY – Workers are making headway on the former Avondale Mills plant site, but still have work to do before the property is opened to the public.

“Right now, we’re taking up the concrete slab,” said Greg Gossett, the city’s street superintendent.

He said some of the former Avondale Mills manufacturing facility floor was timber but some was concrete.

“All the existing power poles were removed from the property,” Gossett said. “The first part of next week, probably Tuesday and Wednesday, we will be removing the remaining wood inside the fence.”

The city bought the property from Pell City-Tifton Properties, LLC, a subsidiary of Thunder Enterprises of Chattanooga, earlier this month as part of a court settlement.

The company filed a lawsuit against the city after the council rejected the company’s request to rezone the property from manufacturing to commercial and residential, so the company could build town houses and commercial businesses on the former plant site.

Officials said the city not only secured the former Avondale Mills property but stopped a lawsuit, which could have become costly for the city.

The city bought all Avondale properties within the city, which includes the 28-acre former mill site for $1 million.

“We still have some things to do, but we’re making headway,” Gossett said of the Avondale Mills plant site clean-up.

City workers cleared around the old Avondale office building and boarded up the windows.

“We tore down the other building,” he said. “It was the old Avondale workshop. It was beyond repair.”

He said the city manager and council still have to make a decision about the smoke stack.

A structural engineer said the smoke stack is not structurally sound and bricks from the stack have come lose and fallen from the structure.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” Gossett said.

Mayor Joe Funderburg said he would like to at least save the old Avondale Mills water tank.

“I would love to keep it,” he said.

Funderburg said the city is getting estimates on how much it would cost to save and do upgrades to the tank.

He said the city may get public input as to what the tank would look like to represent the city, colors and design.

Gossett said fencing around the property remains in place until all hazards are removed from the property.

He said there are no projections as to when the park will actually open for public use, but the clean-up continues.

“Right now, we’ve spent about 400-man-hours cleaning the property,” Gossett said. “I think we should have the property completely cleaned by the middle or end of next month (September).”