TALLADEGA - After years of planning and one solid year of hard work and uncooperative weather, the renovations of Talladega’s Veteran’s Park are at last complete and open to the public. The council celebrated with a ribbon cutting and plaque dedication following Monday’s council meeting.

According to City Manager Brian Muenger, the park was originally known as Pines Park in the 1950s, and has always been the centerpiece of the city’s parks and recreation programs.

“I have worked for the city since 2008,” Muenger said. “But this project has been talked about for longer than that. Before this council, (former councilmen) Lance Grissett and Jimmy Davis made this a priority back in 2007.”

The main focus of the project was widening and shoring up the channel that runs through the middle of the park. Muenger explained that this channel carries stormwater from McMillan Street, and that erosion of the banks had already caused the fences to collapse in several places. “We had to stabilize it or we would lose our park.”

Neel-Schaffer designed the project and it was put out to bid in 2010, but came back too expensive. So the project was divided into phases.

The first project involved relocating an 18 sewer line below the grade, so that none of the other projects would disrupt it. The remaining work was rebid in 2012, with a local contractor, Waites Construction, winning the bid. 

Muneger said the work started around Independence Day 2013, and in spite of more than 100 construction days lost to rain, the project was complete in less than one year.

Muenger also thanked Graham Davis for building the new pavilions, Alabama Power for providing $1,000 in landscaping through a “Good Roots” grant, and the energy efficiency company WRATT for providing LED lighting.

City Purchasing Director Terry Hanner oversaw the project, and worked with Community Appearance Director Mitch Bast, Public Works Director Karen Phillips and Parks and Recreation Director Stacy Jones, as well as all their employees.

“It is gratifying to be able to present a first-class park that will be enjoyed for many years to come,” Muenger said.

Council President Donnie Miller said he could remember practicing with youth sports teams in the park when he was younger. He had seen many renovations, but “what I’m seeing now is unbelievable. I know people have criticized us for spending the money, but they owe us an apology. This is a reason to hold our heads high.”

Councilman Jarvis Elston commended everyone involved in the project and asked all citizens to come enjoy it.

Councilman Joe Ballow and Mayor Larry Barton concurred, with the latter characterizing the renovations as “a masterpiece.”

Councilman Ricky Simpson encouraged visitors to help keep the park clean.

Councilman Horace Patterson thanked everyone for coming just before the ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Also Monday night, the council:

• Reappointed Anne Graham to the Heritage Commission.

• Heard a resident complaint from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

• Approved the replacement of four Verizon antennas.

• Surplussed a 1999 Ford Explorer.

• Approved travel and training expenses for Police Chief Jason Busby and Revenue Officer Ken Heath.

• Approved a fire hydrant maintenance and repair program.

• Announced that Mump Creep will be open again July 1, and keys and fishing permits will be available for $50.

• Announced that Fourth of July festivities would begin in Veteran’s Park at 6 p.m. with fireworks following after sundown.