Avondale reuse

Public input sought on what to do with former mill site.

PELL CITY – The city has scheduled an informal meeting to get input from residents as to how they would like to see the former Avondale Mills property developed.

“We want as much input from the public as possible,” said City Manager Patrick Draper.

The informal meeting is set for Tuesday, Aug. 5, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Pell City Civic Center. Residents can stop by at their convenience and offer their input as to what they would like to see on the property or how they would like the city to develop the site, which sits in the historic district of the city.

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

The textile mill stood at the site for more than 100 years.

A Phase I environmental study was completed before the city bought the land, and the city is moving forward with a Phase II environmental study.

City officials said scientists will collect soil samples in areas where there could be potential contamination problems.

Draper said the study must be completed before the city can build anything on the property or move any dirt.

City officials said they want to get the study under way so everyone knows if there is any potential soil contamination problem associated with the site's past manufacturing use.

Councilwoman Dot Wood asked Draper Thursday to get at least three quotes for the study.

He said the city received a cost estimate for a Phase II environmental study in 2013 for $11,750, but a more recent quote was for $17,000.

Draper said there are two methods of soil collection, either through a trench approach or by taking bore samples.

“I don’t expect any problems with the property, but we still have to do our due diligence,” Draper said.

The council is also expected to approve funds to advertise the Aug. 5 public meeting at its meeting Monday night.

In recent weeks the city established an Avondale Mills Planning Committee, which has met with architects to map out a direction for the property.

Committee members include Tommy Bowers, Jeff Jones, Nicole Anderson Walters, Jennifer Gover and Ray Miller. The members were appointed by council members.

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

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 Aug. 5 meeting is the first of several meetings the city will hold before finalizing a plan.

Funderburg said it's important for everyone to keep an open mind with the development of the park, which could be developed in phases over five to 10 years.

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

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.

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.