Columbiana plans to create park at former Summer Classics building

Published 10:30 am Thursday, May 9, 2013

By GRAHAM CARR/For the Reporter 

Columbiana city leaders are planning to turn the old Summer Classics Inc. building into a park in an effort to provide additional recreational opportunities for local citizens.

“We don’t have enough recreational parks in Columbiana,” Columbiana Mayor Stancil Handley said. “We need a place where a young family can go with three young children.”

The building has been vacant since a fire in 2004. The city bought the property, which was once a cotton mill, from Summer Classics about seven years ago.

Handley said the city plans to complete the renovation in phases, beginning a pavilion that survived the fire. The renovated pavilion will have a theater-like seating area.

“We can have outdoor productions there, such as music, shows, family reunions and events for the public that the city would sponsor,” Handley said.

The park and restrooms will be added during later phases, although Handley said there’s no official timeline for the project at this time. Preliminary estimates are about $3.5 million, and the city will use about $50,000 of this year’s budget for the project.

“We are trying to get it useable first and then we will add to it,” Handley said. “It doesn’t have to be a completed project for our citizens to go ahead and enjoy it.”

Handley said another reason for the renovations is that the burned-out building does not give a good first impression when people arrive into the city.

“We have spent a lot of time, effort and money on the downtown area and one block away, we have a burned-out factory,” he said. “It is a blotted area.”

Several years ago, the city donated 1.2 acres of the property to the Shelby County Arts Council for the construction of a community arts center.