By Nathan Prewett
For the Tribune
SPRINGVILLE — A public hearing was held during a regular meeting of the Springville City Council on Monday night on a resolution to allow Big Canoe Creek to be used as a greenspace. The resolution was met without opposition and follows years of effort by the city to secure the land for public use.
At a meeting on Feb. 5, the council heard from several members of the Friends of Big Canoe Creek on allowing the state to adopt the land to be developed as a park by Forever Wild. Some commented on the potential economic benefits of a greenspace in the city, saying that it may attract businesses and visitors to Springvillle.
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During the public hearing, city attorney James Hill explained that, as required by state law, advertisements for the hearing and the resolution were put out. Tonight’s hearing was part of the requirement before the city could move forward with voting on the resolution.
He said that the city is paying $100,000, while the state pays more than $1 million. The St. Clair County Commission will pay $150,000 and lender will lease a mortgage of no less than $1.55 million.
Doug Morrison, who is president of the board of Friends of Big Canoe Creek, spoke before the council and spoke on the origin of the project, saying that the idea of going to Forever Wild to preserve the land came in 2009. He thanked all of those those involved in the process.
Another board member, Mike McKenzie, also spoke.
“I just wanted to thank everybody involved in the process,” he said. “We have an amazing resource at Canoe Creek. It is a beautiful piece of water right here in the city of Springville that you can swim in and fish out of.”
Springville Mayor William Isley also expressed gratitude to those who pushed the process along and asked that the Friends of Big Canoe Creek continue to assist with the park.
“As it grows and builds, I think it’ll probably be even better than when it first started,” he said. “So it’ll evolve into something great for the community. It could bring in as many as 100,000 people a year. That’s what’s on the horizon for the city.”
Isley said that there are state funds that the city can use in the building of trails and other construction projects.
Afterwards, the council moved to vote on the resolution, which came in two parts: 2018-04 and 2018-05. The first resolution authorizes the council to enter an agreement with the St. Clair County Commission as it invests $50,000 into the project, provided that the project will serve as an “economic and/or commercial development purpose” and that the “expenditure of public funds serve in a valid and sufficient purpose not withstanding incidental benefit to an individual or entity.”
Councilor Tim Walker asked Hill who will be managing the property. Hill said that while the land will be owned by the state, the city will be responsible for “management and oversight”. The second resolution was a “certificate of indebtedness” which he said obligates the city to pay the for the project within 90 days.
Both resolutions were passed unanimously.
During his comments, Isley briefly touched on the subject of bringing school resource officers in response to an incident in which a high school student was arrested for making a terrorist threat on social media. He said that a meeting of the St. County Clair Board of Education will take place at 6 p.m. on March 19, the same time as the council’s next regular meeting.
He said that he will be attending a meeting on Wednesday at Bethel Baptist Church in Odenville where county officials will be present to discuss plans on police presence in St. Clair County Schools. Isley said that he may attend the Board of Education meeting if he does not find out more about the county potentially sending SRO’s to school campuses at the Bethel Baptist Church. If he goes to that meeting, Councilor Wayne Tucker will fill in for Isley at the next meeting.
“It’s very important right now that we not forget what happened and be proactive about what they’re going to do, if anything, in our schools as we move forward,” he said.
At one point during the meeting, attention turned to consideration of installing an emergency phone at the fire station. At the last council meeting on Feb. 19, a citizen came forward with a request that an phone be placed at the fire station in case someone without a cellphone needs to call for help. The council agreed to include it as a item of the agenda for tonight’s meeting.
However, the item was rejected. Councilor David Jones commented that that he did not see the need for spending money on one when, if someone in an emergency is without a cell phone there will certainly be others who do.
The vote on the item was met with two “yes” votes and six against.
In other business, the council approved authorization of advertisements for bids for the sports complex which will house a temporary fire station.
The council approved a request by Fire Chief Richard Harvey for an agreement with Alabama Power for utility easements for the storm shelter at no cost to the city. Harvey also reported that the storm shelter is progressing, with paint being applied to the interior.
The council approved a renewal of a five-year contract with the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System for $4,200.
The council also welcomed a new officer at the police department, Vannard Hughes, who is a patrolman.
The next Springville City Council meeting will take place on March 19 at 6 p.m. The work session was recently changed to Fridays at 8 a.m. preceding the regular meetings on Monday.