Opinion: Breath of fresh air

Published 10:26 am Monday, June 26, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

I have been covering Shelby County professionally for just under a year, but already in that time I have seen the love that this county has for nature.

The Shelby County Commission as well as various municipalities continually work to ensure that residents have ample options for exploring the great outdoors.

Now, those options will be expanded even further, thanks to the efforts of the city of Chelsea.

The Chelsea City Council recently presented a draft for its Chelsea Park System Master Plan. The city has been working alongside Dix.Hite to survey residents about various amenities that are sorely needed within  Chelsea.

Some areas that residents requested in the survey were dog parks, a swimming facility, playgrounds, more shaded seating and gathering places as well as more trails.

Shelby County residents recognize the inherent beauty of Alabama and want to take advantage of it through enjoying healthy and refreshing outdoor strolls.

After the presentation, the council continued to gather feedback from residents before it continues to develop the next stage in the master plan.

The Chelsea City Council aren’t the only ones working to improve the city’s natural beauty either as members of St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Chelsea recently began a new community project involving the construction of a new trail system.

This trail will extend from King’s Ranch to the church, and work has already begun on the project which will be completed in three phases.

“In today’s world there are not enough parks where people can truly experience nature and relax and get back to seeing God’s beauty,” church member Chris Stricklin said. “Our hope is that it’s not only a place for our church and our members to go to but also a place for our community to embrace the acreage we have and spend some good relaxing time out there.”

Significant progress has been made on the project thanks to the efforts of several volunteers.

In the past year, the Shelby County Commission opened Double Oak Park as well as purchased property in the Dunnavant Valley area in order to ensure further development of the county’s parks.

Oak Mountain State Park continues to be an invaluable resource for the county and continues to grow its list of available trails. The park opened its newest multi-use trail back in April which provides visitors with views of the water as it follows along the shoreline and through the forest.

Whenever Shelby County residents feel the need to get away from a screen and grab a breath of fresh air there are plenty of options, and those options continue to grow each day. We may not have the funding or amenities of a bigger county but that’s okay because we already have invested in something much more valuable.