What a debate that seems to be igniting and polarizing Talladega on social media. Some people want to continue with the idea of re-branding Talladega and give potential visitors a reason to drive the 10 miles off of I-20. Others see it as a huge waste of money and a potential money pit.
Here are the facts:
The City Council voted to continue exploring the idea of a splash pad. They voted to place the splash pad on the city-owned golf course property after a public outcry against other sites. The company that leased the golf course no longer wanted to continue with its business venture and the land reverted to the city. The city was unable to sign anyone else to the lease so the land was going to be unused.
They (through the city manager) hired a company (Neel-Schaffer Engineering) to give an example of a splash pad on the city-owned golf course. The council also stated that before any construction was to begin, there would public meetings to discuss the idea.
Neel-Schaffer Engineering presented its ideas to the city manager and she presented them to council and to the public in her State of the City address at the Ritz Theatre.
Money was spent on the engineering plans, to help visualize and present ideas on development of the land.
However, no other money has actually been spent. The plan is still in development and open to debate. Everything else being said is opinion. So here is my opinion.
Talladega, as it is, needs more to attract people to come here. Come here to live, shop, send their kids to school and to work. Attracting them is a priority. All cities do this.
They do this in different ways according to their assets.
Oxford and Pell City use I-20 as one of theirs. Their tax base has been growing for many years, but they continue to offer new ideas to support their assets. Just look at Oxford’s new Choccolocco Park with sports fields, concessions and now kayaking. Pell City has a lakefront
park with a sports complex and a splash pad. They have added attractions to garner even more visitors to their cities.
Talladega has to continue with its rebranding efforts just to give better reasons to drive the 10 miles off of the interstate. We are not competing with the two example cities, we’re trying to catch up! The splash pad is not by itself going to catch us up with our neighbors. What it will be is an investment in our future growth. A featured attraction coupled with existing assets like April in Talladega, Christmas on the Square, The Ritz Theatre and the Square’s revitalization would greatly benefit Talladega.
We have to try and grow our tax base somehow. Industry has not been interested in coming to Talladega for many reasons. Businesses have not relocated here for other reasons. We will not know if our population has continued to drop until after the 2020 census.
Some people will say that the money could be better spent, like on paving roads, making our schools better, hiring more police ... the list can go on and on. I want more for the city, too. I know the splash pad will cost a lot of money, but what the idea needs is huge public belief and
Come to all of the city council meetings. Stay informed on the facts and when it’s time to voice your opinion or concern, do so at the called public meeting, not on social media where all of the world can see us divided and arguing but instead see us as a concerned committed community deciding the democratic way how to run our city.