During its regular meeting Tuesday, the Anniston City Council agreed to contribute $852,000 to the McClellan Area Regional Development Compact. The compact calls for the combined expenditure of about $1.84 million from all of Calhoun County's municipalities and the county commission for infrastructure development in parts of McClellan. Local leaders say the work is needed to attract industry to the site, adding that the unified financial backing from the area's cities will further entice companies to give McClellan a chance.
All the other area city councils must still vote to approve their respective expenditures. Anniston's contribution is the highest single amount among all the compact partners. The Oxford City Council agreed to spend $400,000 during its regular meeting Tuesday evening. Its contribution is the second highest, tied with the contribution promised by the county commission. The commission has yet to officially vote on the expenditure.
The other expected expenditures in the agreement include Jacksonville at $120,000, Weaver at $40,000, Piedmont at $20,000, Ohatchee at $8,000 and Hobson City at $4,000.
The compact agreement calls for local governments to make annual payments on their contributions starting no later than Jan. 31, 2015.
The City Council thanked all the local governments, various city employees and other area agencies who made the compact possible.
"I just wanted to say that this is huge," said councilman Seyram Selase. "Municipalities that work together are more likely to be economically successful and it is a benefit to all of the area municipalities for supporting the development of McClellan.”
The money from the agreement will contribute to the development master plan of the McClellan Development Authority, the organization responsible for the management and development of the former fort. The MDA already has $8 million for further development and beautification at McClellan.
The compact's money will be used mainly for infrastructure improvements on Iron Mountain Road and Pappy Dunn Boulevard. Specifically, Iron Mountain Road will be extended from its current northern end to Alabama 21. Also, the boulevard will receive lighting, landscaping, gutters and sidewalks.
During a brief phone interview before the meeting, Don Hopper, executive director of the Calhoun County Economic Development Council, said such work is needed to make the site more attractive to potential companies.
"Transportation issues are always one of the top criteria a company looks at when making a decision," Hopper said. "This is going to give us better access to the site."
Phil Webb, chairman of the MDA, who did not attend the council meeting, said all the area's governments stepped up in agreeing to contribute what they could to the compact.
"Everyone has identified how important this is to the development of McClellan," Webb said. "This goes a long way to recruiting business — it's just incredible that these cities and the county commission are saying 'hey, we're here to help, we understand, we get it.'"
In a Tuesday phone interview, Oxford City Councilman Mike Henderson said development at McClellan will benefit his city. Henderson said the situation is similar to the Honda automotive plant in Talladega. Even though the plant is located in another county, many Oxford residents work there, he said.
"McClellan will bring in more jobs and I think those people will then want to shop at Oxford due to the easy access from there," Henderson said. "And I think people might want to consider living in Oxford also, due to the retail quality of life and school system."
Anniston Councilman David Reddick was thrilled the city was moving forward with the agreement.
"This is what it is all about," Reddick said. "This is progress."
In other business the council:
— Removed from the agenda the reading of a proposed ordinance forbidding the tethering of animals in city limits
— Modified a contract with ACP Greene and Associates, requiring more services from the firm, which is providing consulting on the city's strategic plan
— Agreed to spend $2,942 to buy a new video camera for an Anniston city police vehicle.
Staff Writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.