PELL CITY – The newly formed Avondale Mills Planning Committee met Wednesday with architects to map out a direction for the proposed public park or green space in the heart of the historic district of the city.

“We want as much input from the public as possible,” City Manager Patrick Draper told the committee, which met for the first time Wednesday morning at City Hall.

The committee will help develop a master plan for the former Avondale Mills property with assistance from Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon Inc. architects, after open meetings, both formal and informal, with the public.   

The first public hearing is tentatively set for  4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5. A location for the informal meeting was not determined, but the committee will announce the location later.

Mayor Joe Funderburg, who also serves on the committee, said he wants all committee members to keep an open mind with the development of the park, which could be developed in phases over a five- to 10-year period.

“This is a choice piece of property in downtown Pell City,” Funderburg said.

Draper said members of the committee represent individual council districts; each council member appointed a committee member from his or her respective council district.

Committee members include Tommy Bowers, Jeff Jones, Nicole Anderson Walters, Jennifer Gover and Ray Miller.

Also on the committee are Funderburg and council members Jay Jenkins and Sharon Thomas, who serves as the committee chairwoman.

The committee met for close to two hours with park developers and planners Kevin Lindsay, Joseph “Joe” Sawyer, Megan Lynch and Steve McKinney with Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon Inc.

Last year, the city bought all Avondale Mills properties within the city for $1 million, including the 28-acre plant site between U.S. 78 and Comer Avenue.

Committee members will meet with the public to see what ideas the public has for the property's development.

“This is such an important project,” Miller said. “This is an extension of downtown Pell City.”

Jenkins said it is important that the city puts the proper things on the property, and that a well-thought-out plan is put in place for the development of the plant site.

Funderburg talked about the few remaining structures on the Avondale Mills property, like the office building, smoke stack and water tank.

“Pell City has lost so much history,” he said. “These are the last remaining parts of Avondale, which saved this town.”

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