Decatur Development Blog

Expansion and Development in the Greater Decatur area

Posts Tagged ‘Morgan County’

6th and Beltline

Posted by alalto on July 31, 2011


I apologize for how long it’s taken me to post about this.  Either way, here’s my take on the new development at 6th and Beltline.

Below is an excerpt from the Decatur Development Map, which you should take a look at 😉

Pay attention to the numbers and colors, they’ll help you figure out what’s going on.

Here’s a quick rundown:

Red means “Expected; awaiting construction”
Blue means “Completed”
Purple means “Proposed”

1) Shopping center, supposedly anchored by Kohl’s (they haven’t released the anchor yet, but it’s generally believed to be Kohl’s). 80,000 to 110,000 sqft.

2) Olive Garden: Currently occupied by Lynn Layton Cadillac. Lynn Layton Cadillac will move across 6th Ave (US 31) (the large road that runs north south). After Cadillac moves across 6th Ave, three takes place.

3) Lynn Layton Nissan and Cadillac move in together. Nissan will be remodeled once Cadillac moves over.

4) Kroger intends to build a fuel center in front of its building. At this moment, we don’t know where on that property it will be built.

5) New tenants have been announced for the Crossings of Decatur (anchored by Target) as:
– Moe’s Southwest Grill
– Gigi’s Cupcakes
– Shoe Show
– The Children’s’ Place

6) Bender’s Gym: A 33,000 sqft, $3.5 Million facility.

There’s also another development that I neglected to label on the map. The orange box immediately to the right of #2 (Olive Garden) is a Verizon Store that is currently under construction.

7) This is some proposed development spot. They didn’t really say anything about anyone looking at, simply that it was “prime real estate.”

Here’s the deal.

Most of this I expect to happen.  The city will benefit through increased tax revenue, substantially.  However, traffic is going to get bad.  The city plans improvements to the Beltline/Veterans Dr intersection, and there will be a light placed in front of the Kohl’s shopping center.

Eventually something is gonna have to give, and I don’t think we can expect anything to happen until the widening of the Beltline on the SE end.  Even with that widening, you still have the problems on 6th Ave and AL 67 east of US 31.  What we consider moderate traffic during the day (non rush hour times), can/will quickly grow into heavy.  It seems quite short-sighted of the city to only consider slight intersection improvements.

What else can we expect?  Sales tax produce is going to increase.  I don’t mean from the stores that are planned for construction, I’m talking about all over town.  Folks in Lawrence, Morgan, and northern Cullman Counties will have less of a reason to drive to Huntsville now, since Decatur is closer and will be more able to satisfy their shopping needs.  So, look for more traffic ALL OVER town.

As for when all of this will be completed, there’s no telling.  If I had to guess, I’d say mid 2013 would be the latest.  But, we all know how things progress in this city…

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Driving Decatur to the Future – The Keys to Success

Posted by alalto on January 16, 2011


Don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook!  Decatur Development Blog

Yes, I know, it’s been FOREVER since I posted on this thing. I’m going to have a lot more free time this semester, so I’m hoping I can revive this thing. I know I’ve said this many times, but maybe I can get it done this time.

Keys to Success
I think we can agree that most of us look at our city and wonder why it isn’t succeeding like we know it can. Also, I’m sure we all can agree that some of the things that need to be done/fixed are pretty obvious, and don’t take much imagination to think of.

Let’s start with the obvious.

Self Worth

I’ve noticed that most citizens and officials in Decatur have a low sense of pride in their town. I mean, I agree that Decatur isn’t exactly the most exciting city on the planet, but it’s not like we don’t have anything to be proud of. I’m not going to go through the long list of things that we have to be proud of, because honestly, people should do that on their own and they would probably be surprised at what all we have to offer.

Anyways, we all know “that person” that is constantly calling Decatur a boring town, hick town, lame town, or a dump… We’ll call that person… Gorgonn, King of Stupidity… we all dislike Gorgonn when he/she opens their mouth, cause usually it’s just utter stupidity that spews from it. Hopefully, Gorgonn will hate this blog post.

I really feel like something needs to be done to boost Decatur’s “rep.” Basically, we need to get something going that creates a sense of pride in the community. Unless the city is proud of itself, we will never prosper.

Young People


We need young people, not the kind that are trampling all over grandpa’s lawn while he’s trying to watch wheel of fortune, but the kind that are educated and are looking to start professional careers in or around the city. These kinds of people not only make a greater amount of money over their lifetime, but they bring a certain “vibe” to the city that just can’t be fabricated.

I’ll say that the city is moving closer to attracting more of these young’ns, but more needs to be done. The monthly downtown funtime that occurs on the Friday is a good step, it brings people downtown, and though I haven’t yet visited one of these things, I can only assume that they’re fun.. ish. Like I said, more needs to be done. What can be done to attract more young people?

Young Professionals and their Social Lives

If I’m not mistaken, there is already an organization in town that brings young professionals together. If there is, good, if there isn’t, it needs to be created. I know Huntsville has one, and they’re pretty good things that bring young professionals together to meet, greet, gather, and socialize. They’re great ways to meet new people in a town that’s pretty spread out and sub-urbanized.

Not only do these bring people together to socialize, but they also do great things for the community. Typically, they do volunteer work like cleanups, tutoring, and other things.

Not only do these organizations bring together and maintain young professional populations that increase quality of life, and grow tax bases, they aid in attracting new industries and businesses, typically the ones that employ educated people.

Education

How many times have you talked to Gorgonn and heard the stupid King mention that Decatur is dumb, and has education problems. Being a product of the Decatur City School system, I can tell you that the resources are available for kids to succeed. When I arrived at the University of Alabama, I was prepared, and I wasn’t the kid that was sitting on their bed the night before an exam wondering why he couldn’t understand everything.

What I’m getting at is that Decatur doesn’t have an educator problem, it has an educated problem. What I mean is that the kids that are being taught are where we’re going wrong. Before you call me Gorgonn and say that I’m calling our kids stupid, I’m not, I promise. What I mean to say is that we have a problem with our kids not being inspired to learn, having a lack of aspirations, and just plain not wanting to learn.

There’s a big problem with kids not feeling like they’ll amount to anything, at all. Basically, we’re turning them into more Gorgonns… that isn’t what we want. We need to create a way to inspire our children, get them to be excited about their future, and helping them understand what they’re doing so they’ll want to learn.

I was a kid not too long ago, so I feel I know pretty well what it takes to get kids interested. As adults know, in college, classes get easier as you get into the ones that are more specific to your major, you know, the ones that you’re really interested in. Why can’t we find a way to connect the interest they have in various subjects to the subjects they’re being taught in class?

The problem that most kids don’t know what they wanna be when they get done with school. It doesn’t matter if it’s simply to be a hairdresser, or being a nuclear engineer, we need kids to want to be something so that they’ll know they need to get through school to get there. Even the simplest of jobs takes some kind of education.

I know that we went through career stuff in middle school, but it’s something that need to be injected into their minds early in elementary school. If a kid wants to be an astronaut when they’re in 1st grade, who cares? I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was that age, and what am I in school for now? Geography. Kids’ aspirations change, it’s inevitable.  But, to not inform them about their possible job prospects (even the unlikely ones) at a young age, simply because they’re gonna change what they want to do as they get older or they don’t understand how hard it is to get to these careers, is utterly Gorgonn-like. The fact is, the kids will eventually realize what their capabilities are as they age, and their aspirations will become more and more attainable. Another fact is, we aren’t doing enough to foster the kind of “career imagination” that we should be. The best part about doing this stuff is that it doesn’t have to cost money.  Start this at a younger age and I guarantee you increase the likelihood of their desire to be educated.

Corporate Involvement

Decatur City Schools has a very good relationship with area business and industry, this much is a fact. I remember receiving many benefits and visits from industry representatives in the Decatur area while I was going through school. This needs to be maintained, and expanded. Yes, these are rough economic times for the economy, but they are improving. Besides, an investment in an industry, or business’s, community is also an investment in that industry or business’s vitality and success. This is something that needs to be spread around. Happy and successful children equals happy and more productive parents (who are also employees of these companies).

Higher Education

I think this is an area that all of us know needs to be improved.  Morgan County will not have a single institute of higher education until the North Alabama Center for the Arts open in a few years.  While this is a great development for both downtown and the areas education, we still need to do more.  The nearest legitimate 4 year college is UAHuntsville, which is a good distance from Decatur.  We have education opportunities, but they aren’t convenient.

I’ll say, this is one field that I don’t know much about.  Higher ed politics are very complex and confusing, and rather costly.  Something should be done.  We see branches of Troy University in Dothan, Montgomery, and even Panama City, FL, why can’t we have something similar in Decatur?  Wallace State also has various branches of its school in the state.  I believe this is something that our city leaders need to look into and act upon.  We need someone to meet with leaders of Troy, Wallace State, Alabama, and maybe even UNA to examine the possibilities of opening a campus in Decatur.

NEXT TOPIC:

Transportation:  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

 

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MorCo Industrial Park and dropping jobless rates?

Posted by alalto on July 21, 2009


The bonds for the $16 Million industrial park south of Hartselle, along Thompson Road and Interstate 65. This industrial park is expected to be similar, yet different, than the Mallard-Fox Industrial Park along the Tennessee River, west of Decatur on Alabama 20/ALT 72.

The parks are supposed to be similar in that the two will both have influence from the Decatur-Morgan County Port Authority, which allows for railroad access, and other intramodel utilities. Also, the new park is expected to look at more technical and hi-tech manufacturers/industries as tenants. First tenants will likely be located along the interstate, of course because of the exposure.

Now, I’ll start with the pros of this:

Location location location
Because this park is to be located along I-65, it is obvious that we’re going to get more visible industry/business from the interstate. Why is this good? Because it matters how people view the Decatur area. Is the area rural? or is it more metropolitan? We all know that the area is more metropolitan, but most people (whether they be simple tourists or developers/businessmen/potential investors) don’t have any clue what the area is like, mainly because there’s nothing to look at in Morgan County. Now, while I enjoy foliage, and the greenery along the highway, there isn’t much at this specific location. And it is important that the Decatur area is viewed as a developed/developing, economic, GROWING, and maintained area. Potential investors, though many will deny it, focus a lot on vanity, which is basically how the area looks to outsiders. In other words, it is important to be viewed as growing in order to continue growing.

The cons:

Meh…
As far as the financial impact on the county’s and the cities’ books goes, it’s not that risky. The money to make payments on the bonds comes from a steady income of “in lieu of tax” payments made to the area by TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority). If this industrial park is as successful as Mallard-Fox has been, we can expect a great return in the initial investment made by the county. And, ladies and gentlemen, Mallard-Fox has been outstandingly successful.

The only negative I really see with this park is the area that it will be improving. While we can expect a great deal of realistic influence on communities that are within about 5 to 10 miles (it all honestly depends on a complex “distance decay” formula which is in all honesty to complex for me to explain) it doesn’t seem that communities as far away as Somerville, Morgan City, and Lacey’s Spring will be realistically affected by this. Other than having some more money flowing into their municipal coffers, I don’t see any seriously noticeable growth in population or private sector economy occurring. However, I do see a possible positive affect on areas like Moulton, Lacon, Eva, Falkville, and Danville. The obvious benefactors are Hartselle, Decatur, and Priceville, because of their close proximity to the area. Hartselle and Falkville are the communities that I see benefiting the most economically, while I think we’ll see Decatur grabbing most of the population growth involved, followed by Hartselle, then Falkville, then Danville.

Apparently, the unemployment rate in the Decatur Metropolitan Area has decreased! The Decatur Metro was the ONLY part of the state to see a decrease in the unemployment rate in the ENTIRE state.

The Decatur Metropolitan Area, which consists of Morgan and Lawrence Counties saw the following:

in Morgan County, unemployment decreased from 10.2 to 10.1%
in Lawrence County, unemployment decreased from 12.4 to 12.3%

While the two counties saw a decrease, the rates were still high when compared to the counties with the lowest rates in the state. The lowest rate in the state was Shelby with 7.6 percent, followed by Madison with 7.9, then Coffee County (Enterprise/Elba in the Dothan Area) with 8.2. The Coffee County rate was particularly pleasing. It shows that the Wiregrass region of Alabama is now becoming a truly metropolitan region. Anyways, the lowest rate in the state was Wilcox with 24.4 percent.

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2008 City Census Estimates Released

Posted by alalto on July 2, 2009


The 2008 Census Estimates for cities were released yesterday. In Alabama, the city that gained the most numerically was Huntsville, growing by about 5,000 people. Since 2000, Huntsville has grown by about 16,700 people. After Huntsville came Tuscaloosa with about 12,000. In terms of percentage growth, Calera (a Birmingham suburb) was tops with 211% since 2000, growing by about 7,000 people to around 10,000. After Calera came Vance (a Tuscaloosa suburb).

Other cities our region:

Decatur: A slow grower, Decatur has gained about 2,000 people since 2000, last year gaining about 500.  The growth rate has begun to increase slightly, so we’ll see where that takes us.  Sadly, Auburn surpassed Decatur to take the number 8 spot among the largest cities in the state.  Decatur now sits at # 9 with 56,068 people.

Athens: The third largest city in Huntsville’s metro area, Athens has been growing a good pace.  The city has grown by about 5,000 people since 2000, and about 1,000 in the past year.  The growth rate has definitely increased as the East Limestone region of the Valley has started to influence growth on the suburban parts of Athens.

Madison: Among the fastest growing cities in the state, it has gained nearly 10,000 people in the past 8 years.  It now stands at 38,714.

Somerville: Since 2000 Somerville has lost about 200 people.  Lately, however, the town has begun to gain again.  A good sign.  Current estimates show the population at 505.

Hartselle: The second largest city in Morgan County and the Decatur Metropolitan Area has continued with its steady growth.  A very slow grower for the first half of the decade, the city has slowly started to grow a little faster.  The city now stands at 13,888.

Eva: The second smallest city in Morgan County has continued its very slow growth.  It now stands at 587.

Falkville: Until 2005, the city was losing people.  However, the population has turned around.  The population has lost people since 2000, however, the city has gained 1 person in the past year.

Trinity: A fast grower for a city its size, it now stands at 1,976.

Moulton: A city with VERY spastic growth, Moulton has gained just 7 net citizens since 2000.  But, growth is growth, the city has gained about 10 in the past year.

Priceville: Priceville is still one of the fastest growing cities in the state. Since 2000, Priceville’s population has increased by about 1,100 people, or 70%.

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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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2 turning into 4 on 67

Posted by alalto on August 22, 2008


In today’s Decatur Daily, an article announced that Alabama 67 will be widened to four lanes all the way to Priceville (5.7 miles). This is great news. There is a significant lack of four lane highways in the eastern Morgan County part of the Greater Decatur Area. About 13,500 cars travel this portion every day. For a road this size, that is a lot of cars. I am almost certain that once the economy picks back up, there will be some significant development spurred in the Somerville Area. Priceville should see a lot of economic growth too.

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Decatur gets richer and it’s not 1984

Posted by alalto on August 8, 2008


Well folks, great news. The Decatur Metropolitan Area (Morgan and Lawrence Counties) experienced the second highest per capita income growth in the state, and the highest in North Alabama. Between 2006 and 2007 the Decatur Metro per capita income grew by 5.2 percent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Huntsville Metro Area (Madison and Limestone Counties) experienced a growth rate of 4 percent for the same period of time.

The highest growth rate in the state was not state for some reason… Anyways, ranked, the Birmingham-Hoover Metro Area has a per capita income of $39,247, with a growth rate of 5.1 percent. Huntsville was next with $36,084. Then came Montgomery with $34,333 with a growth rate of 4.1 percent. Then came Decatur with $32,293.

For the next story, just so you know, the cameras that look like big brother from 1984 is watching you and taking a picture of your car tag when you run a red light are not such. They are merely a traffic monitoring system that is used to regulate traffic lights. Don’t worry, these things are just making your commute better. And they last longer than a regular in ground sensor.

Is it just me or are there more and more people being pulled over lately???

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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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