Montevallo trail makes downtown connection

A milestone in the development of a new hiking trail will occur in the wee hours of Thursday morning, when workers connect the trail to the Main Street Bridge downtown.

City Councilwoman Hollie Cost, a member of the trail steering committee, said Wednesday the work will begin at 3:30 a.m. Slated for completion next year, the 2.5-mile trail will connect Orr Park and Stephens Park.

“We really just want to connect the whole community through the trail,” Cost said. “It’s a wonderful way to connect people to each other.”

Cost also announced LaFarge North America has pledged $12,000 to quality of life and downtown revitalization efforts. A significant portion of the donation will go towards the trail.

Cost said LaFarge reserves the right to adjust its pledge pending economic difficulties.

The trail will follow along Shelby County 10 and go through the University of Montevallo campus. The university’s portion of the trail is more than a mile long.

Retired engineer Terry Arnold, chairman of the steering committee, intends for the trail to expand to Davis Falls, Falling Rock, American Village and Ebenezer Swamp.

“(The locations) are scenic and reachable with a trail, but questions of right of way have to be answered,” Arnold said. “This trail in any form as it goes forward would require right of way from private owners.”

The steering committee has experienced some opposition from property owners. State Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, was unwilling to have the trail follow a portion of his property line, citing the trail could compromise the property’s marketability.

Arnold views the trail as an advantage to property owners, and has appointed the Rev. Buddy Freeman to oversee further right of way acquisitions. Arnold suggests property owners consider the trail as an investment rather than a detriment.

Arnold and Cost said the trail is a volunteer-driven effort, and credits city and county leaders for their steadfast commitment. Shelby County has contributed $200,000 to the trail. An anonymous source has contributed $4,000.

“If there’s someone who wishes to volunteer we would appreciate any interest from the public at large,” Arnold said.

For volunteer information, call 665-2555 or e-mail tgarnold1@msn.com.