Survey says Pelham residents happy with city, officials

Pelham residents are quite happy with their city, according to a recent survey and comments from a public meeting.

The city of Pelham is in the process of updating its comprehensive plan. The city’s first and only comprehensive plan was developed in 1977.

Joey Hester, a planner with the Birmingham Regional Planning Commission, is helping city officials update the plan which will serve as a road map for future city decisions .

Hester unveiled results of a survey of city residents at a public involvement meeting late last month.

He also presented information and maps of city’s population projections, economy and land use.

The survey had more than 200 respondents and the results, he revealed, were by-in-large &uot;very favorable&uot; toward living conditions in the city as well as the performance of city leaders, city employees and city services.

According to the survey,

n Ninety-nine percent of Pelham’s residents felt fire protection in the city was either excellent or good.

n Eighty-seven percent felt water and water services were excellent or good.

n Eighty percent felt garbage services were excellent or good.

n Ninety percent felt parks were excellent or good.

n Eighty-three percent felt the library was excellent or good.

n Fifty-nine percent felt senior services were excellent or good.

n Ninety-four percent felt crime-control was excellent or good.

n Seventy-two percent felt traffic flow and maintenance were excellent or good.

n Fifty-three percent felt planning and zoning in the city was excellent or good.

As far as future development, the results showed a mixed message.

n Sixty-nine percent said the city should seek new commercial development.

n Forty-five percent said more industrial development was needed.

n Eighty percent said the city should seek more tourist and recreational opportunities.

n Ninety-seven percent said the city needed to prevent incompatible development.

Hester showed the some 20 residents in attendance a quick summary of demographics for the city.

According to U.S. Census data from 2000,

90 percent of the city’s residents are white, 10 percent are of another race with the largest minority Hispanic at 6.5 percent. The median household income was $54,808.

Educational attainment was as follows: 4.3 percent had less than a ninth grade education, 6.7 percent had at least some high school, 23.2 percent had a high school education, 25.6 percent had some college, 5.4 percent had an associate’s degree, 25.1 percent a bachelor’s degree and 9.7 percent had graduate degrees.

According to the city survey, the average household size was 2.5 people.

Most residents had lived in Pelham more than 10 years. Fifty-six percent work outside the city. Fifteen percent work in the city, 11 percent work in both and some 18 percent are retired.

Hester said the city’s population of 14,369, is projected to more than double by 2025 to about 32,000. The city had only 654 residents when it incorporated in 1964.

As far as road improvements in the city, Hester told the residents that help on some overcrowded roads may be a while in coming. One of the most traveled roads in the city, Shelby County Highway 11 between Chelsea High School and Highway 52 has no scheduled improvements until 2015.

Interstate 65, however, is scheduled to be six-laned sometime between 2003 and 2009.

Alabama Highway 119 is scheduled to receive extra lanes in the coming years, he said, as would Shelby County Highway 52 between Pelham and Helena and Alabama Highway 261.

Hester then asked residents what the &uot;assets&uot; were in Pelham.

Assets, as answered by residents, included: the police and fire departments, the parks (including Oak Mountain State Park), the Civic Complex, the Amphitheater, the Tennis and Racquet Club, low taxes, affordable housing, Pelham High School, Riverchase Elementary, Valley Intermediate, a financially sound government, a friendly business environment, the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and &uot;a great return on your tax dollars.&uot;

Liabilities included: a lack of jobs in the city, full industrial parks and no space for more, too much railroad traffic, road congestion, incompatible zoning, a lack of sidewalks, a lack of connectivity, a lack of &uot;high end&uot; restaurants, multiple jursidiction confusion (among cities) and overcrowded schools.

Jesse Jowers, Pelham’s City Engineer, closed the meeting by telling residents that another public involvement meeting would would be held after the city’s next planning commission meeting on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.

At that meeting, he said, residents will review the assets and liabilities identified during the first meeting as well as establish goals and objectives for the updated plan and review a draft of the future land use map