Montevallo begins neighborhood revitalization
By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer
MONTEVALLO – A resident of the Shoal Creek community consistently attended Montevallo City Council meetings to ask for neighborhood revitalization.
Even after the City Council applied for grants, no money was available to assist the predominantly black community. Now, after a few years of City Council meetings, Thomas “Top Cat” Lilly Jr., will see his persistence pay off.
“(City Councilmember) Sharon (Gilbert) and I got together and talked about the alternative means to help that neighborhood and involve the university because it’s so service oriented,” City Councilmember Hollie Cost said.
“We decided we’d take the Big Event concept and focus it around the middle school. We really wanted to concentrate our efforts there,” Cost added. “It’s a big need in the community, and we tried to fill it in one way, but identified that there were other ways to address it.”
The Big Event is a day of volunteerism for University of Montevallo students to give back to the community. This year, on April 14, The Big Event will partner with Habitat for Humanity and paint two houses in the Shoal Creek-Prentice Village.
“There’s a lot that’s going to happen, that we want to happen,” Cost said. “The first step is getting everybody on board. To make it a sustainable initiative and keep it gong, not just get dropped after we fix a few things.”
On Feb. 8, a group of Montevallo residents met at Montevallo Middle School to discuss ways to improve areas of decline in the community.
“We informally discovered while talking to people in the area, there are some homes that are just beautiful, but others were owned by family members that passed away or moved and the houses were left vacant. Or they’re elderly and can’t take care of their homes,” Cost said of the Shoal Creek-Prentice Village.
In addition to neighborhood revitalization, Cost said there are plans for Montevallo Middle School to become a hub for the community. She said classes on financial planning, gardening, computer literacy and other community needs will be offered. A community garden was also discussed.
Habitat for Humanity has a program for veterans, with $10,000 available for home repair for honorably or generally discharged veterans. Cost said she is looking for local veterans in need of home repairs to participate in the program.
“We hope this will serve as a model for other communities that need the same support,” Cost said. “We don’t want to focus on one community and leave other communities out.”
Family Day was held on March 4 to give residents the opportunity to learn about the planned revitalization.
“I feel the purpose of Family Day was an opportunity for residents of that neighborhood to come out and have food and fellowship and get the word out as to what we’re doing in that neighborhood,” Gilbert said.
For more information about the Shoal Creek-Prentice Village project or task force, contact the Office of Service Learning and Community Engagement at the University of Montevallo at email@example.com or 665-6006.