Montevallo receives $100k grant for eco park

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Lifestyles Editor

It’s a gift that will continue to give for generations of Montevallo residents.

The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham recently awarded the University of Montevallo a $100,000 grant to create an eco park on its campus.

Dr. John Stewart, president of the university, said the grant will be used to fund construction of picnic and recreation facilities around University Lake, which is located near Middle Street adjacent to the Montevallo Golf Course.

Stewart said the park is a product of partnerships between the university, city, county and now the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.

“In a time of financial scarcity, we appreciate that the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham saw an opportunity to build on an existing partnership,” he said. “It really makes it possible to reach out to the greater community.”

That’s part of the reason the eco park was chosen for the grant, said James McCrary, vice president of grants and endowments for the Community Foundation.

“A lot of what (the university) does is not just for the students, the faculty and the staff at Montevallo,” McCrary said. “A lot of the what they do is for the community at large.”

Proposed plans for the eco park include a picnic pavilion, barbecue station, a beach volleyball court, fitness trails, a boathouse and additional piers and docks. The park will be eco-friendly, and structures will be made of recyled materials.

“It’s really going to be a place where people can go to fish, recreate and work out,” Stewart said.

The park will be open to the public, and Stewart said it will also offer “a great teaching space” for University of Montevallo faculty.

The grant from the Community Foundation will distributed over two years. Stewart said the first grant installment will help pay for the construction of the picnic pavilion, which he expects will be completed in about six months.

Stewart said the university was honored by the grant and thanked the Community Foundation for its support.