SPRINGVILLE – The City Council approved hiring LMO Partners, a Birmingham landscape architectural firm, to develop a conceptual plan for the new Big Canoe Creek Nature Preserve.
“We need them,” said Doug Morrison, president of Friends of Big Canoe Creek, who heads up a resource committee for the Big Canoe Creek Nature Preserve and serves on the city’s Parks and Recreation Board.
The Friends of Big Canoe Creek spearheaded efforts to help secure the 380-acre Forever Wild property in Springville. The property is along a portion of Big Canoe Creek.
Morrison told the mayor and council maps and architectural plans are needed to move the development of the recreational property forward.
“They will walk alongside of us when securing grants,” he said. “We need someone we can trust.”
He said LMO Partners has already done some work for the group at no charge.
Abraham Odrezin, a co-founder of LMO Partners, presented a slide presentation, maps and pictures for the mayor and council to see Monday night.
“This is only the beginning,” said Dean Goforth, who serves on the Big Canoe Creek Nature Preserve Resource Committee and the city’s Strategic Planning Advisory Team.
Goforth said state officials are willing to help and want this project to succeed, but the city must take the first steps forward with mapping out the future for the preserve.
“It all starts here,” Goforth told the mayor and council. “It starts in this room. … This is the beginning.”
Officials said an additional 42 acres of property is being secured to increase the preserve to 422 acres.
Odrezin said the preserve could serve many purposes, including education, research and recreation.
“It holds a lot of opportunities,” he said.
The preserve could also provide a boost to the local economy with the influx of guests who may travel to Springville for outdoor recreation the property could offer, like kayak and canoeing, fishing, hiking, biking, archery and possibly horseback riding.
The group is working on developing a safe entrance into the property, as well as installing a gate and fencing.
The mayor and council members asked Odrezin questions before they voted unanimously to hire the firm to complete $12,000 of work towards the development of a conceptual drawing for the property, which officials said was about 80 hours of work.
Mayor William “Butch” Isley cautioned the architect the drawing “needs to be realistic.”
“We don’t need a conceptual drawing of the Taj Mahal,” Isley said.
He said the city had not budgeted the expense for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Isley said future requests need to be made prior to the council approving any future yearly budgets.
In other matters Monday night, the council:
Announced the city is holding an Easter egg hunt from 10 a.m.-noon Saturday at Big Springs Park;
Approved emergency repairs to a city fire truck at a cost not to exceed $2,000;
Approved a contract with the St. Clair County Commission to house inmates in the county jail; and
Authorized the mayor to sign and submit a letter, so that preliminary engineering can begin for permanent improvements to the U.S. 11 and Alabama 174 intersection.