Survey says … Alabaster survey results highlight comprehensive plan meeting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 7, 2003

A civic center, a new municipal complex and a new library are important to Alabaster residents, according to the results of a recent community survey.

The results were presented at the second comprehensive plan update meeting for Alabaster held at the municipal annex by Joey Hester, a planner with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham.

Assisting with the meeting was Jeff Sexton, chief landscape architect for Sherlock, Smith & Adams Inc.

While a smaller number of residents attended the Sept. 25 meeting than the initial meeting on the comprehensive plan update, city officials expressed a desire to get the word out more successfully for future meetings to encourage public participation in the process.

About 362 people responded to the community survey, according to results presented by Hester.

Among those responding, 62 percent were male; 34 percent were female; and about 4 percent did not identify their gender.

Some 70 percent of those responding listed incomes of $45,000 per year and above. And an additional 10 percent listed incomes of $30,000 per year and above.

About 54 percent of those responding were employed outside the city of Alabaster; 14 percent were employed in the city; and 19 percent were retired.

About 40 percent of respondents have lived in Alabaster for 10 years or more with another 28 percent having lived in the city five to 10 years.

Some 53 percent of respondents listed household sizes of one to two person; and about 35 percent listed household sizes of three to four persons.

According to the survey, nearly 60 percent of those responding felt a new library was important; almost 60 percent felt a municipal complex was important; and about 60 percent felt a civic center was important. Also about 54 percent of residents felt neighborhood parks and green spaces were important.

However, only about 34 percent of respondents considered a new senior center important and only about 37 percent felt sports fields and facilities were important, according to survey results.

The most important amenities by rank (funding preference) were a civic center, a municipal complex, parks

and a library.

According to the survey, assets, opportunities, liabilities and sacred cows include:

n Assets: Shelby Baptist Medical Center, small town atmosphere, good school system, location, road system, friendly environment, good library, safe environment/low crime, good fire department, good topography, room for city limit expansion, good church environment, forward thinking government, Highway 119/Highway 31 retail development, Interstate 65 development possibilities, park system, good subdivision/neighborhoods, youth programs, cooperative county government, industrial park/Shelby West, airport and good sewer system/water system.

n Opportunities: Quarry development/gardens, old mill property development (possible civic center site), Blue Springs, sports development, undeveloped land potential, Buck Creek Bike Trail, retail development, YMCA facility, Shelby Baptist Medical Center, Highway 119 development/widening, innovative employees, Interstate 65 development, senior center/assisted living, theater/cultural opportunities, location (transportation/auto plants attraction), movies in the park at night, July 4th celebration.

n Liabilities: railroad (traffic and noise), lack of a civic center, city hall, lack of connectivity (service roads), flooding/drainage, community dilapidation/invites crime, city services (street lights/dead animals), trash clean-up enforcement, need for speed breakers, outgrown civic facilities, consolidated civic complex, aging facilities (existing parks), old sidewalks/curb and gutter/striping, undersized water lines (may impede fire protection, small commercial tax base, lack of nice restaurant/entertainment, heavy truck traffic, lack of emergency sirens/warning signals, lack of business street numbers, need better directional signal, lack of identify.

n Sacred Cows: city hall location, senior facility location, mill, adequate buffers, open spaces, old jail and old mill housing (siluria).

Among those attending the meeting, Fred Phillips expressed a desire that the city find use for the Old Buck Creek Mill property.

He said there is 150,000 square feet of space in a charming physical location which has been neglected for 17 years.

&uot;Don’t just throw it away,&uot; he said.

Councilmember Tommy Ryals said the city is trying to figure out the best use of the property.

He said structural engineers have suggested that 70 percent of the old mill property should be torn down, which would cost about $1 million.

However, Phillips responded that even if the city did tear down 70 percent, it would leave about 1,000 square feet of concrete floor with water and sewer services in place.

Ryals said the city will make a decision about what it can do.

At the council meeting Monday, the city voted to purchase the property. Its use is still undetermined, however.

In answer to a question from Leif Milliron, it was pointed out by Hester that the comprehensive plan is being created for the city at a cost of $25,000.

Sexton said his company’s part is about $10,000, but he said the company is providing more than twice the service for which it is being paid.

Hester said the next meeting will address town center locations and village centers. He said also discussed will be neighborhood centers which are market driven.

Ryals explained that the city is looking at village-type centers rather than strip malls.

He also said the city is looking at some village type designations to add to the zoning regulations