County planning river park

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Shelby County has purchased property on the Cahaba River and is in the early planning stages of a new park.

Jim Phillips, landscape architect for the county, said the Facilities and General Services department is working on access road improvements and utilities preparation.

&8220;This is a large project for us,&8221; Phillips said. &8220;It&8217;s the largest project we&8217;ve been involved with.&8221;

Convenient to both Montevallo and Helena, the more than 300-acre site stretches along the Cahaba River in the area of old Boothton Slab.

&8220;It used to be a local hang out. There&8217;s a lot of history to that area,&8221; Phillips said. &8220;There&8217;s a spot where they had Baptisms in the area. People learned how to swim.&8221;

The department has not yet started on a design plan, he said, as it is mostly still just weighing ideas. One of Phillip&8217;s suggestions is a birding tower, similar to one he saw last year in Talladega National Forest.

Other proposed ideas include overnight parking places, canoe loading and unloading areas, an ATV track, primitive camping sites and picnic spots. Nature and hiking trails are a definite, Phillips said.

County Manager Alex Dudchock said the project &8220;will take years to fully develop. We will not be building out the park in only a 12-month period. It&8217;s too large of an expenditure.&8221;

Dudchock estimated completion time at three to five years, though he said other current and proposed projects might take precedent.

When the park is complete, Phillips said it will be &8220;a good destination point. It&8217;s got a lot of scenic beauty and it&8217;ll be a different character of parks than our other parks.&8221;