Pelham plans for the future

By KAITLYN BAKER / Special to the Reporter

PELHAM – Where do you think the City of Pelham will be in the next five, 10 or 25 years? What are your dreams for Pelham’s future? What do you hope your children (and grandchildren, even) will inherit as the future generation of Pelham?

Now is the time to voice your hopes, dreams and opinions. The City of Pelham is developing a new comprehensive plan, complete with strategies and actions that will help the visions of residents and local businesses become reality. The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham has partnered with the City of Pelham to get the job done.

“The comprehensive plan is a way for the elected leadership to know what the citizens want,” Mayor Gary Waters said. He said he would like to see Pelham accomplish two things through the comprehensive plan: one, “adopt smart growth initiatives and grow Pelham in, not out,” and two, “pursue retail growth initiatives that preserve quality of life.”

Its first comprehensive plan since 2003, the plan will address specific issues and make updates accordingly. “The comprehensive plan will address every possible thing – everything a citizen can possibly be concerned about,” Waters said. “Services, schools, traffic, residential / commercial growth, parks and recreation, just to list the big issues.”

One Pelham business owner, Karen DeVito, has high hopes for the future of Pelham and her budding business on Pelham Parkway. She opened Buck Creek Coffee House in July of this year.

“This was a coffee house for five years prior to us buying it,” DeVito said. Formerly known as Kai’s Koffee House, DeVito often met people for business meetings there and was upset when she learned it was closing.

“But she also saw this as an opportunity for us to go ahead and fill that same void we were losing,” DeVito’s husband, Torre, said. He said he sees their clientele changing as the comprehensive plan unfolds, but he anticipates a strong “coffee clientele” for them in the coming years.

Imagining her business in 10 years, DeVito said she is optimistic, even with the rise of chain coffee shops in Pelham. “I see a very thriving coffee shop, even with Starbucks going in around the corner,” she said. “I do see expansion.”

Stacy Mullins, the manager at Buck Creek Coffee and former manager at Kai’s Koffee House, said the shop is very much a “local hangout” that brings the Pelham community together. “Everybody comes here,” she said.

Between politicians, business people, students and senior adults, it’s a place where everybody can come and know somebody, no matter how much Pelham may grow and change over the years. “The whole city — we have this coffee shop as a common denominator,” Mullins said.

One way DeVito keeps up with the happenings in Pelham and how they relate to her business is through the Pelham Business Alliance. It meets monthly and has helped her stay informed and engaged with the comprehensive plan. “The City Manager came out and told us [about the plan],” DeVito said. “She was able to answer our questions as leaders and business owners.”

As a citizen, there are a number of commissions and boards in Pelham that you can join to get involved. These include the Planning Commission, the Board of Adjustments, the Library Board, the Parks & Recreation Board, the Beautification Board, the Arts Council, and many others.

In the words of Mayor Waters, “A city can flourish only if the residents and business owners are involved in the way the city is governed and managed.” For more information on the plan or to share your input, visit www.planpelham.com.