Bentley awards $633,975 in grants to Shelby County projects

By BRIANA HARRIS / Staff Writer

MONTGOMERY – Of the $1.6 million in grants Gov. Robert Bentley recently awarded to improve recreation opportunities in the state, $633,975 went to Shelby County projects.

The $1.6 million will be used to build or expand trails at 12 locations throughout the state, Bentley announced in a news release on Thursday, Nov. 3. The grants were awarded from funds made available to the state through the Recreational Trails Program, which is a Federal Highway Administration program.

“I am excited about the wonderful outdoor projects going on within our state and the enthusiasm surrounding them,” Bentley stated. “Alabama is truly an outdoor paradise and trails are a wonderful way to experience the wonders of our state. I am delighted in playing a role in these projects.”

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is administering the grants.

Shelby County received $60,000 to build a 2-mile connector trail that will connect several existing multi-purpose use trails at Oak Mountain State Park.

Pelham received $80,000 to develop a portion of an overall greenway and trail system connecting neighborhoods, civic buildings, school and parks. This phase will develop a trailhead at Pelham City Park including a 6.4-mile trail with parking, water fountains, picnic areas and benches.

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said the ultimate goal is for the sidewalks being built on Bearden Road, across from Pelham High School, to connect to Oak Mountain State Park.

Waters said the Bearden Road sidewalk will come down to the back of Pelham City Park, following Bishop Creek and passing by the Pelham Civic Center and Oak Mountain Amphitheatre, connecting to State Park Road.

“This project will greatly enhance the quality of life here in Pelham and we are very appreciative of the grant,” Waters said.

 Columbiana received $393,975 to work with the Historic Shelby Association and other local governments to construct the 5-mile-long Hoodlum Railway Trail from the city to the Shelby Iron Works Parks along a Civil War-era railroad bed.

Columbiana Mayor Stancil Handley said the trail will be accessible for hiking, biking and golf carts. The railroad bed was built during the Civil War to transport iron to Selma to make equipment for the Confederate Army. Handley said historical markers will also be placed along the trail.

“I’m thrilled beyond words,” Handley said. “This will offer a lot of recreational opportunities for our citizens and visitors.”

Montevallo received $100,000 to construct a trailhead pavilion, restrooms and signage along a portion of 167 acres that was donated to the city.

Montevallo City Clerk and Treasurer Herman Lehman said lifelong Montevallo resident Elizabeth Mahler donated the property to the city in 2013 before transitioning to an assisted living facility. On the land sits an house that was built during the Civil War and was later renovated in the 1940s.

Before the Mahler family took ownership of the land, it was a part of a 900-acre plantation that belonged to the Perry family.

The city developed Shoal Creek Park located on Alabama 119. Lehman said the park doesn’t have currently have restrooms or a picnic area.

“I believe residents and visitors will get a lot more enjoyment out of the park once we add restrooms and a picnic area,” Lehman said. “Elizabeth Mahler wanted the land to be developed into a park that everyone could enjoy.”