Decatur Development Blog

Expansion and Development in the Greater Decatur area

Posts Tagged ‘City Council’

Lots o’ good news

Posted by alalto on May 19, 2009


There was a lot of good news announced in the Decatur Daily today.

The city council unanimously approved the $800,000 requested by the colleges for the arts campus. The county of course also approved their portion a few days ago. The city donated the money, as well as the property, to the State Board of Education, for the campus.

An interesting note was made that Morgan County is the most populous county in the state that does not have an institution of higher education within its borders.

I’m really happy about this. Not only with this provide for improved access to education in the city, and economic development in downtown, but it will also keep some of the oldest buildings in downtown from being demolished.

Another development with this is that the two year college chancellor is planning to resign. What we saw last time this happened was another slow down on this project. They’re saying that the chancellor stepping down shouldn’t have any effect on the project. And, I’m praying that this is true…

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Various…ness

Posted by alalto on May 14, 2009


So, I’m bored, so I thought I’d just write an entry about some random crap that randomly crosses my mind at random moments….

So, first for some news. From the Daily, Morgan County approved $800,000 for the downtown arts program, and I’m hoping that the city follows through on their end.

Anyways, I was reading in the Daily, again, about how Gadsden has all these downtown events. They attract people and they are actually entertaining. And they are, I’ve been to many of them. My dad’s side of my family is from Gadsden, so I’m very familiar with the town. They do an excellent job of tying the city in with it’s river heritage, and exploit it without destroying the natural beauty.

So, I was thinking that the city already has a lot of things going on downtown. The problem is, no one knows about them, and they are so scattered that no one can choose to spend a night on the town and go to multiple events. They have to decide to go to one or another. We have a lot of resources downtown, we just don’t take advantage of it. The Princess is a HUGE asset to the city, and we don’t even exploit its existence. Sure, we all like it there, but not many of us can say that we attend events there regularly.

And honestly, the Princess is one of the nicest performance venues in the state. There aren’t many cities that have a venue like we do, and we need to use it.

So, I have an idea. Which, I think I might have mentioned in the past on this blog, I’m not quite sure. Here it is:

2nd Avenue and Bank Street. They’re two streets that are just lined with great places to eat and entertain. Now, at the moment, they’re doin alright, but they could be doing so much better. My idea is this, shut down 2nd Avenue and Bank Street to vehicle traffic and only allow foot traffic. To give a better example, Beale Street in Memphis, and Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Of course, we could never dream of being as popular with this as Bourbon Street. But, I think that this could be a huge success.

The city wants to attract young professionals to the city. Young people that are looking to live somewhere that is fun, has a great quality of life, a lot of cultural diversity, and somewhere that they can themselves contribute to. These people come here, settle down, have kids, and contribute greatly to the economy. Possibly the best example of this type of growth is Austin, Texas, which uses the University of Texas to attract young professionals.

To get back to my idea. You may be pessimistic about this, and I honestly don’t think there is any reason to be. Because, if we get the arts school program downtown like we want to, we can expect the students at the school to participate and get they’re friends and family to come downtown to enjoy everything. College students are some of the best advertisers you could ever ask for. I would know, I’m one of them.

Now, I don’t know all of the things that could impede something like this. So, putting all possible road blocks aside, here’s my plan.

Starting at the southern most portion of downtown, at the Gordon Drive intersection, block of Second Avenue to vehicular traffic (diverting 2nd Ave traffic to 1st Ave). Then, block of 2nd Ave to vehicular traffic at the northern part of the street at the intersection with Lee Street. Of course, if we wanted to start out small, we could shut down 2nd Ave from Johnston Street to Lee Street. I would also suggest closing off Moulton Street between 1st and 2nd Ave.

So, now we have all of 2nd Avenue only open to foot traffic. Obviously, we have places like Maria Bonita open for nightlife eating and stuff. We would have certain performances at Maria Bonita, Princess Theatre, and then some kind of finale performance in the ginormous parking lot at the SW corner of 2nd Ave and Lee Street. So, crowds could like move gradually north along 2nd as the night progresses. A kickoff could start off with a more personal setting at the pocket park with various performances and such. The crowd would then move to eateries around the 2nd Ave/Moulton St. After the eateries, people would move further north to a performance at the Princess or maybe a free performance across the street at the vacant lot, or at the arts school. After these performances, people would then migrate to the finale type event in the parking lot.

See, I think that we can get all these entities to work together and form a schedule that, instead of conflicting with eachother, works together to create a fantastic night of entertainment that could be repeated once every month or so.

So, any opinions?

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Could Calhoun Come Calling????

Posted by alalto on May 12, 2009


So, in today’s Daily, Senator Arthur Orr pitched the requests for the Calhoun downtown campus to the city council. Basically, it just outlined what he believes is needed from the city for the project to move forward. These types of things include the old furniture store on 2nd Ave, the old DU Warehouse and the former Elks’ Lodge building. I’m almost certain that the city will deed these properties to the cause, considering that they’ve pretty much been sitting on these structures, waiting for the moment to hand them over to the college.

The city’s contributions are nearly a check off for the project, and I’m sure the county’s contributions are the same status.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more sure about this project. Finally seems like it’s going to happen. I’m so happy with this project that I can hardly stand it. It will be amazing to see more traffic and economic activity in downtown without taking business away from 6th Avenue and the Beltline.

Other things going on…

I noticed that the intersection of to streets just off Stratford Road SE is being improved. This intersection, that is heavily traveled by cars on their way to Eastwood Elementary in the mornings, and can be quite interesting to drive through with the kind of drainage that exists. Anyways, it’s improving.

Also, the weather monitoring system along Interstate 65 at the Tennessee River bridge is nearly complete, if not complete already. This system is supposed to aid in the notification of conditions along the nearly 2.5 mile long bridge. Which, I’m sure we all know, is quite frightening to drive over during hazardous conditions. If I’m not mistaken, some notification screens, much like the ones along McFarland Boulevard in Tuscaloosa, should be in place to notify motorists, but I’m not completely sure about it.

In other news, Lawrence County Schools has decided to consolidate some HS’s in order to save money and such. Lawrence has been hard hit by their shrinking population, so they’ve had to come up with some different type of organization to aid in making the system more…organized.

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City seeks downtown grant

Posted by alalto on September 30, 2008


The city council approved 5-0 a venture to ask for a state grant of $400,000 for streetscape work on the lower portion of Bank Street. Improvements would include the conversion of the 4 lanes to 2 lanes, diagonal parking, wider sidewalks, improved lighting and a brick paved median.

All of this would be meant to encourage development along the lower portion of Bank Street, which is key to improving the connection between downtown and Mid-Downtown (Bank Street). Funding is already being gathered for improvements on 2nd Avenue and Lee Street.

Judging by the topics covered in the city council meeting, it appears that a McDonalds (really just someone with the name McDonalds USA) might be locating along Alabama 20. I’ll see if I can figure anything else out.

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More about District 2 race and Bama gets a B

Posted by alalto on August 5, 2008


Some interesting things in this article.  When asked about whether or not they would support current council president Billy Jackson (District 1) for another term of president, David Bolding raised some interesting points.  They weren’t specifically about a council president though.

He proposed demoting the position of mayor to a part time position and giving it a salary that is about equal to the current city council salary of $15,071, random number…  Anyways, He says that the former money used for the mayor’s salary ($100,480) should be put towards hiring a well qualified city manager to deal with all the budget issues and such.  I’m a fan of the idea of a city manager, these have been shown to be very effective in other cities.  Greenville, SC has a city manager if I’m not mistaken.  Vestavia Hills, AL has proposed it too I believe. 

The problem with the whole proposition of the city manager position is that I like Don Kyle, and I don’t wanna do him any wrong by paying him less.  Either way, I support David Bolding for the District 2 position.  He’s convinced me that he’s the man for the job.  If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read the Daily’s articles that have all these question in them for the candidates.  They’re actually quite interesting.

In other news, the State of Alabama gets a B overall in the No Child Left Behind junk.  Three schools in Decatur did not make the cut, Austin High, Brookhaven Middle, and Decatur High.  The high schools have been hitting a rough spot lately, and Brookhaven regularly is on these lists.  Hartselle Schools met all their goals, as did all in Lawrence County except for RA Hubbard and Hazelwood.  Morgan County schools also did great. 

It was a pretty good day for Decatur Metro Area schools.  These results don’t sound good, but they’re an improvement over last year.  Looking at the high, middle, and elementary school details in the articles, I noticed that there is a wave of improved student scores coming up from the elementary schools and it looks to be pretty strong.  Looks like it’ll hold on through once the first few classes come through.

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District 2 race, MorgCo Health Department, and school board elections

Posted by alalto on August 3, 2008


There are five men seeking the seat of the city council District 2.   Of all of them, I did not see a GREAT candidate other than incumbent David Bolding and an unexpected visionary by the name of Jack Gresseman.  The others were less than impressive and seemed to steer away from being partisan on the questions that were asked.  Surprisingly, Gresseman only has a high school diploma and works at the Target Distribution Center in Limestone County.  

I was impressed with Gresseman’s answers though.  He had some pretty good things to say.  He proposed building up entertainment venues in the Sweetwater area of Decatur and constructing a sky lift between Sweetwater and Point Mallard.  That is something that could be really successful IMO.  I remember going to Point Mallard as a little kid and when we were finished swimming, we ALWAYS wanted to go get ice cream.  I have a feeling that a lot of people still feel this way, so people could just hop on the sky lift and head to Sweetwater and maybe go to Coldstone or Marble Slab.  I think it’s an AMAZING idea.

I liked Gresseman, Bolding, and James Tardy’s ideas about downtown redevelopment the best.  Gresseman proposed attracting more bars and eateries downtown to create more foot traffic.  Bolding discusses bringing more employees and students in, which I think is the key to a downtown’s success these days.  And Tardy is a business owner on 2nd Avenue, so I think his insight would be invaluable.

The MorgCo Commission is entering the hunt to aid the MorgCo Health Department find land for a new facility.  Sites being looked at are the Wallace Center on US 31 S in Decatur, sites in Hartselle, and a site along Old Moulton Road, in Moulton Heights, just outside the Decatur city limits.  

I think the Old Moulton Road site would be best.  The property is just outside of Decatur, and the annexation of this property for the health department would aid in annexation processes of the Moulton Heights area, which is a large and moderately populated area of Morgan County that is almost completely surrounded by the city of Decatur.  

District 1 race candidates are making dropouts and a central high school their number 1 platforms.  Mainly discussed was the idea of a central high school.  Personally I like the idea, but the costs would be enormous and there is really no where inside the city where you could build one.  Maybe along Central Parkway, but that’s only if you tear down Decatur Utilities.  Other proposals were to add floors to proposed future buildings at Austin High and adding a third floor to Decatur.  Both of those ideas are the best IMO.  One of the candidates even suggested tearing down Ogle Stadium.  That would be nothing short of pure stupidity.  There’s too much tradition in that stadium.  

Wow, that was a long post.  I still haven’t come up with that catchy slogan, I promise I’ll get back to yah.

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Celebration Arena sale is crumbling…

Posted by alalto on August 3, 2008


Yay!  This blog was listed as a Top Blog on August 1st 2008 under the Growing Blogs.

http://botd.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/growing-blogs-826/

So, apprently Celebration Arena (out in Priceville) that was supposed to be sold to these Chase people for some development is kinda in a bad spot.  The Chase people have some kinda problem with making these payments for the arena and the current owners are considering selling it to somebody else if the Chase people don’t step up.

I don’t care who buys it as long as they develop it into something nice.  It’s definitely no where near where it was when it was in it’s former glory.  Maybe, something can be worked out.

Please, everyone, can we stop bashing Decatur and complaining about how it’s so awful here and start doing something about it?  I’d like to see something good happen, and that’s never gonna come to fruition if people don’t start talking to other people that can actually do something about it. 

If you have an idea, a worry, a complaint, or just want to make a statement, get in touch with your councilman!!  The council’s purpose to represent the citizens, and do their best to make the city better, mostly based on how the city wants it.  Obviously, that isn’t how it’s been working.  So, let’s change that!  I’m sure everyone that reads this blog that actually has something to do with Decatur has some kind of idea or statement they would like to be known by the council. 

I think we could really make a big statement by all sending the councilmen e-mails and letters.  If they are as pro-Decatur as they say they are, they’ll listen and take what you have to say into consideration.  So, please, have pride in your city and get off your butt and do something about IT!

I think I’ll come up with some kinda catchy slogan and post it in the next update.  Maybe people will remember it and actually start doing something…

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Ever been to Point Mallard???

Posted by alalto on July 30, 2008


Have you?

Cause if you haven’t, I’d recommend you go there before you become one of the ones that goes just because it’s the “cool thing” to do.

Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Dunlap is desperately looking for funding for improvements on Point Mallard Park. As many of you know, Point Mallard is where “America’s First Wave Pool” lies. Well, for the part that you may not be so familiar with is the increasing revenues that the park is experiencing during this horrible horrible HORRIBLE economic downturn.

I say this with sarcasm because the entire park has seen a revenue increase of 14%. Divided out, that’s 7% for the aquatic center, 9% for the general park, 19% for the golf course, 5% for the ice rink, and 24% for the campground.

Now, that’s grand over all. But, when you realize that the ice rink has not been the most popular attraction in Decatur it becomes pretty gasp-worthy. And the 24% for the campground, that’s just down right outstanding.

Well, Jeff Dunlap is looking for the city council to include in the bond issued for the Sweetwater development, funding for a lazy river ($2 Million). Dunlap is also asking that the city council hand the park $180,000 to provide sewer hookups to the the C and D parts of the campground. The campground is usually booked completely throughout the year by people who are wanting to stay throughout the entirety of the city’s festivals held at the park.

You may be asking, what justifies all this? Well, the fact that the Aquatic Center is the 2nd most popular amusement park in the state might just give you that answer. Also, with the recent downturn in the economy and increasing gas prices, more people are staying closer to home and going to more local attractions.

Dunlap is hoping to capitalize on all of this by allowing the park to continue setting attendance and revenue records, as it has been each year for about the past 5 years.

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Doing business in Decatur, and 6th Avenue renovations

Posted by alalto on July 29, 2008


I was reading the Insider in the Birmingham News today. The article put the spotlite on the Alabama metros that ranked in a list of cities to do business. In the entire state, Auburn-Opelika ranked 5th, Huntsville was ranked 32nd, Tuscaloosa was ranked 90th, and Decatur was 100th. You can look at the link for the full list.

Birmingham News: Insider

The owner of the small shopping center at the corner of 6th Avenue and 11th Street SE is spending $65,000 on renovating the property. If you’re not familiar with where this is, it’s the center that Mando’s used to call home. I miss Mando’s 😦 Anyway, YAY! finally. This place has been look awful for the longest time, so it’s about time this place got a facelift.

Daily Article

In other news, the Chili’s that is being constructed at the corner of the Beltline and Modaus Rd SW is nearly finished.

The city of Priceville is asking the people that own the Morgan County Fairgrounds (they plan to move the fairgrounds to an area in Priceville) to drop the plan to move there. Which I do not agree with. Priceville needs some more development.

And the town of Trinity is petitioning MCATS (Morgan County Area Transit Service) to provide the town service. That should have already been done, considering that MCATS already services Eva and Lacey’s Spring.

BTW, here’s the Daily article about the city council approving the Sweetwater contract.

Daily article

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Ordinance Adopted

Posted by alalto on July 29, 2008


All voting members of the Decatur City Council voted in favor of the ordinance for the incentives for the Sweetwater development.  Billy Jackson (the council president) wasn’t very clear on what all the ordinance included, but I’m going to do some research and try to figure out what all is included.  Mr. Jackson made it seem like the ordinance approved the incentives so long as the city’s concerns were worked on.  Like I said, it wasn’t very clear, so I’m gonna do a bit of research.

SOME CLARIFICATION

Ok, so I snooped around and came across a video on WAFF.com.  It explains that the ordinance that was approved tonight formalized an agreement that guarentees a Bass Pro, hotel/convention center/225,000 square feet of retail space.  So, it seems that the city moved to accept the contract and what not.  Here’s the link if you wanna watch for yourself.  There’s going to be a story on WAFF tonight at 10PM about the meeting, so you can watch that and get some clear info, I’ll also try and post the link to that video on here for you.

WAFF Video

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