After researching three sites, the Recreational Complex Committee found a 170-acre plot at the northeast intersection of U.S. 280 and Alabama 21 to have the most potential for construction of a multi-use facility.
“The committee finds the property on Highway 280, known as the Bivin-Gaston location, which was originally proposed by the Parks and Recreation Board, to be the preferred location for the recreational complex,” said Daren Holland, Parks and Recreation Board chairman and Complex Committee member.
Other committee members are Councilmen Billy Carden and Joe Hogan, Parks and Recreation Board member Scott Roberson, community representatives Carolyn Sanders and Gary Mitchell, and Planning Commission member Cass Bryant.
The group, which met three times since July, also looked at a 150-acre Hightower property north of Sylacauga on Highway 21 and a 110-acre Fielding property at Highway 21 and Arco Dairy Road. While the Hightower property has the preferred topography, both it and the Fielding property lacked room for growth and adequate highway access, the committee reported.
The Bivin-Gaston property, however, offered major benefits, according to the group. The suggested benefits include: high visibility; easy access from U.S. 280, Alabama 21 and Talladega County 511; diverse terrain; close to town to encourage shopping and dining in the area; close to residential areas; and acreage allowing for future expansion.
The same plot was proposed by the Parks and Recreation Board this April and was also considered for a complex in 2004 before the city ran into sewer and water issues that halted the deal, Mayor Doug Murphree has said. In April, the City Council suggested a Recreational Complex Committee be formed to further research issues like the cost of flattening the hilly property and accessing water and sewer services, as well as other possible locations.
According to a cost analysis provided to the committee from Gaston Construction, a sportsplex at that location would cost about $5 million to build. The proposal includes purchase of the property, five baseball/softball fields, four soccer/football fields, an amphitheater, a 5-acre green area, parking lots and a 4- to 6-acre lake.
“One of the things we found is that any place you put a facility like this, you have to move dirt,” Holland said. “A lot of times you have to bring it in, and that gets very expensive. This particular property, because of the hills, has the dirt available to be moved around. The cost to put the facility there is not any more than anywhere else, and the sewage was easily handled and a very reasonable cost in the analysis given by Gaston Construction.”
More than 50 citizens attended Monday’s work session to hear the proposal, though no time for public input was offered. City Council President Rocky Lucas said input is welcome during tonight’s council meeting, however.
Lucas thanked the committee for going above and beyond what was expected and said the council will look into funding options for such a project. A sportsplex, he said, would “be a huge morale booster and a shot in the arm, not necessarily for the financial dealings of the city, but for the citizens.”
Also during the work session, the council:
• Heard from Jason Fondren of Birmingham-based KPS Group architects about the benefits of city planning and the services KPS Group provides.
• Discussed implementing an ordinance prohibiting for-profit entities from conducting door-to-door solicitation.
• Discussed revisions to the business ordinance, specifically removal of a portion that states a person who applies for a “Going Out of Business” license cannot apply for another business license for two years.
• Discussed a proposed right-of-entry document from Sen. Jerry Fielding allowing city employees onto a portion of property he presently owns off Alabama 21 for the purpose of clearing the land and locating a welcome sign there. The council decided to have City Attorney Win Livingston review the document before taking a vote.
• Heard a financial update from Finance Officer Karen Beane. The city is at 94 percent of its expenses for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. All city departments are within their budgets, except for the Fire Department, which was thrown off because of the unexpected purchase of a fire truck.
The council meets tonight at 6 at City Hall.
Contact Emily Adams at email@example.com.