Cities face bright futures – Mayors work together to overcome challenges
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 5, 2005
Municipal officials agree that working together is the only way to confront the challenges facing Shelby County.
&uot;We get things done because we work together. If we didn’t all sit down together, we’d be beating our heads against the wall,&uot; Pelham Mayor Bobby Hayes told members of the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce last week.
Hayes was among the mayors who spoke to a group of more than 100 members of the chamber at its monthly luncheon in Pelham.
Also speaking to the members were Mayor David Frings of Alabaster, Mayor George Roy of Calera, Mayor Earl Niven of Chelsea, Mayor Allan Lowe of Columbiana, Mayor Theoangelo Perkins of Harpersville, Mayor Sonny Penhale of Helena, Mayor Tony Petelos of Hoover, Mayor Sharon Anderson of Montevallo, Mayor Mark McLaughlin of Westover and Mayor Rosemary Liveoak of Wilsonville.
Mayor Frings of Alabaster reported that his city is looking to become a &uot;shopping mecca for the county.&uot;
Colonial Promenade, the shopping center which will be located at Exit 238 is moving along on schedule, he said, with the movie theater set to open in May and the majority of the rest of the project set to open in July or August.
&uot;We’re working on other projects as well. The western part of Shelby County is going to end up being a shopping mecca,&uot; he said.
One of the best moves the city has made, he said, was the hiring of Tony Rivera as city administrator. Rivera is the former city administrator of Gulf Shores.
Rivera was hired by the city following the retirement of Jimmy Gould.
Other improvements set for Alabaster include expansion of Shelby Baptist Medical Center.
According to Frings, the hospital has a new emergency room planned as well as a women’s clinic.
&uot;It’s a great facility, really working to improve the quality of life throughout Shelby County,&uot; Frings said.
Work on a skateboard park is also under way, he said, indicating there’s &uot;not another one like it in the state.&uot;
Calera Mayor Roy said by the next census, there will be between 15,000 to 20,000 people in the city.
&uot;I’m very happy to see things growing,&uot; Roy said. &uot;But I was worried for a long time about our growth because of the sewer.&uot;
Now, he said, expansion of the old sewer system is complete with up to 1.5 million gallons per day available and another 3.5 million gallons on Highway 70 to be completed this year.
&uot;That 5 million will keep us going for some time,&uot; Roy said.
He said 27 subdivisions are currently under construction, with 13 more in the works.
There are 38 active subdivisions in Chelsea, according to Chelsea Mayor Niven, with 2,500 to 3,000 homes planned in Chelsea Parc alone.
&uot;I’m very proud of our city and the growth we’ve experienced.&uot;
City officials moved into Chelsea’s new city hall last fall.
&uot;People have asked ‘do we need a city hall so big?’&uot;
&uot;The answer is no – not now, anyway.&uot;
Only 9,000 square feet of the space is in use currently, leaving plenty of room for the future, Niven said.
&uot;In four or five years, when we need to expand, we don’t have to worry about the building,&uot; he said.
In addition, during 2004, the city issued 420 building permits.
&uot;This year already, we’ve issued 132. By the end of 2005, 550 are expected.&uot;
A comprehensive plan update is under way as well.
&uot;You want to be sure you’re preparing your city,&uot; Niven said. Some of that preparation involves expansion of a water line down Highway 280.
Columbiana Mayor Lowe focused on the county seat’s walkability.
&uot;We’ve got some good things going on in Columbiana.&uot;
He told those gathered last week that the Main Street renovation was complete.
&uot;That has spurred people to fix up the fronts of their buildings as well, to make it a walkable community,&uot; Lowe said.
Other amenities Lowe said the city has to be proud of include rehabilitation of the sewer.
&uot;As we all know,&uot; he said, &uot;progress follows sewer.&uot;
He also spoke of the city’s sports complex for boys and girls, indicating that city officials take a business approach to parks and recreation.
&uot;We want to make sure we get our piece of the pie. We’re ready to become an active and integral part of Shelby County.&uot;
Harpersville is celebrating 60 years of incorporation this year, according to Mayor Perkins.
&uot;Harpersville is one of Shelby County’s oldest communities,&uot; Perkins said, &uot;where the city meets the country.&uot;
Perkins said the city’s new public library will open next month, and there are two subdivisions under construction.
&uot;We’re also working on a comprehensive plan at this time,&uot; he said.
Perkins said the big news from Harpersville is the announcement that a speedboat manufacturer will be locating in Harpersville the next couple of months.
Monumental growth in Helena has led to the need for a new school facility.
&uot;Helena is in bad need of a middle school,&uot; Helena Mayor Penhale said. He indicated that city officials are working with members of the board of education to finance the new school.
&uot;We’re hauling 600 kids to Riverchase Middle School every day, creating traffic problems, especially on Highway 261,&uot; Penhale said.
Land has already been donated for the school, he said.
Penhale said the city had also worked out a deal with U.S. Steel on a 3,700-lot development.
&uot;We’re making progress but it’s still a long way off,&uot; he said.
As for sewer to meet the growth needs, the city has just completed a treatment plant capable of handling 4.95 million gallons per day.
&uot;It will carry us for 15 years. In the past, we’ve had problems with discharge and overflow. That’s all over with now.&uot;
Hoover Mayor Petelos said he recognized the challenges all the county’s municipalities face.
&uot;All of our communities are facing the same challenges,&uot; he said, indicating that Hoover had a lot to be proud of.
As for plans, he said, an 82-acre park is planned for the front of Spain Park High School.
&uot;This new park will unite our city and our community,&uot; he said.
Mayor Anderson of Montevallo said the town has a great many things going for it including the University of Montevallo and The American Village.
&uot;We have a wonderful main street and our goal is to retain its historic character,&uot;Anderson said.
&uot;Montevallo has been a very calm town. For the last 15 years, the question has been – when will development come to Montevallo? The answer is now.&uot;
Anderson said there are 11 subdivisions under construction/in progress representing 1,200 new homes.
Looking toward the future, Anderson said, Huddle House will open in April on Highway 25; and Montevallo Farm Center is expanding its operation in the industrial park to be three times larger than it is currently.
Anderson said a retail development is also planned on Highway 25 with 12 stores. In addition, a CVS Pharmacy opened during March and a restaurant and additional retail development will open soon.
&uot;There are no vacant buildings in Montevallo at this time,&uot; she said proudly.
Mayor Hayes said with Oak Mountain State Park, the Pelham Racquet Club and Ballantrae Golf Course, the city of Pelham is no longer a &uot;pass-through on the interstate.&uot;
&uot;The city of Pelham is a destination,&uot; he said.
Growth is an issue city officials are dealing with in Pelham as well with 3,800 homes being built in Ballantrae alone.
&uot;Don’t go over there and stand still. Somebody will build a house around you and expect you to pay for it,&uot; Hayes said.
Westover is 4 years old, according to Mayor McLaughlin, with a population of 1,100.
&uot;Sewer is the driving force in our town,&uot; McLaughlin said, indicating Westover is ready to meet the challenges growth is bringing.
To that end, the town has completed a comprehensive plan to determine its priorities.
&uot;The town is thinking in terms of growth and how to prepare for that growth,&uot; McLaughlin said.
Wilsonville is growing just the way Mayor Liveoak likes it – slowly.
&uot;Wilsonville used to be the largest town in Shelby County – in 1900,&uot; she said.
In 2005, its population is close to the same as it was then, according to Liveoak.
Three new businesses have opened since October, she said.
&uot;It’s slow growth; but I like slow growth.&uot;
Mayors of Indian Springs, Vincent and Wilton were not at the event to present the states of their cities