The authority, which has received no funding from the city in the years since its creation, has worked with what money it brings in from sales and leases to prepare property to develop the former military fort.
But after being awarded a grant of nearly $1 million through the Alabama Industrial Access Bridge and Road Corporation in October to do some roadwork on Pappy Dunn Boulevard, Robin Scott, executive director of the authority, recognized the opportunity to leverage the grant and open up another 60 acres of parcels within the park for sale.
The grant would only fund the portion of the road that serves three businesses that are already committed to the park. But the MDA is ready to get started developing the entire industrial park. The only problem is coming up with the funding. The entire project would cost just more than $2.7 million.
This fiscal year, the authority budgeted to clear the lots and demolish the 11 buildings already on the 60 acres beyond the redone road. It also planned to do the engineering designs. The total cost of those two efforts is $625,037. That along with the $950,241 grant would provide $1.57 million for the extended project.
But the new parcels opened up through the demolition and clearing would not have easy access without the rest of Pappy Dunn being redone, Scott said. In addition, the grant isn’t enough to do the work to the master plan specifications already approved by the council members, Scott said.
“The original grant of $950,000 that ALDOT had given us,” Scott said, “is essentially for the road. We cover the curb and guttering. We cover the resurfacing. But it would not allow us to build to design.”
The MDA has a master plan including “a first-class entry” for the park, landscaping and sidewalks. To do the work up to the design’s standards plus the additional road, the authority would need an additional $1.7 million, Scott said.
If the authority had the money to do all of Pappy Dunn Boulevard from Iron Mountain Road to Bains Gap Road, Scott said it would make those 60 acres immediately marketable.
“We can bring a client down Pappy Dunn and go, ‘Which side do you want? Utilities are in place. All the old buildings are gone. You’ve got curb and gutter.’ And it becomes the showplace center.”
Councilman Jay Jenkins, who has been following the progress out at McClellan, said he supports the efforts.
“The $950,000 really paints just half the picture,” Jenkins said. “This really kind of completes the picture.”
Jenkins, as a member of the former Anniston City Council, approved the city’s application for Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program grants for work all over the city including another project for the industrial park that would extend Iron Mountain Road from where it ends at the Pappy Dunn to Alabama 21. The match for the grants total $2.5 million, including $1.3 for the Iron Mountain Road extension.
Jenkins isn’t sure about how the additional costs could be worked into the city’s budget, but he said he believes the work at McClellan should be a group effort of local municipalities and Calhoun County.
It might be difficult to talk some of the neighboring communities into contributing to the interior work at McClellan, Jenkins said. But the Iron Mountain Road extension would directly benefit those surrounding communities as it creates “greater, more regional access to our park.”
“It’s important not just to Anniston, but to other surrounding communities,” Jenkins said.
Councilwoman Millie Harris also believes it will take the combined efforts of Anniston and surrounding communities to bring the projects to fruition.
“I do believe that area is going to be our salvation,” Harris said.
Investing in the park may be a leap of faith at this point, she said. But she believes it will pay for itself in increased revenue and more development, Harris said.
There is some urgency to the request. The authority has to have the project committed by September or October or it will lose the $950,000 grant, said Jenkins.
Scott said he is waiting for an answer from the city before he bids out the project.
“We have to determine first if the city supports our proposal,” Scott said. “That’ll determine exactly what the scope of the work will be.”
Harris said she’s not sure when the council will be making a decision on the proposal, but she’s sure it will be high priority. The next City Council meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 6 p.m.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.