new recreation center coming to Albertville

Albertville Parks and Recreation Center concept drawing

Albertville may soon began construction on a $36 million recreation complex and contractors may repave 90-miles of city streets this summer.

On May 1, the Albertville City Council will consider a $28 million bond issue for the recreation complex as well as a $6 million bond issue for paving. The council approved an $8 million bond issue for renovation of the existing recreation center earlier this year.

At the same meeting, the council will also consider a 1-cent sales tax increase to pay for the projects.

“This may seem fast to the public,” Albertville City Council President Nathan Broadhurst said. “But, for nearly five years, we’ve been putting a plan together for what people feel needs improving — the recreation center and roads. We’ve been financially responsible with our money and know where every penny goes. But, we’ve done everything we can do with what we have.”

Broadhurst said if the council votes in favor of raising the sales tax by 1-cent, the money would be specifically earmarked for infrastructure improvements. He said the additional 1-cent would generate about $3.1 million annually. Each year, $1.6 million from the tax would be used to pay off the 30-year bond for the recreation complex and $700,000 would be used to pay off the 10-year bond for road paving. The remainder would be reserved for infrastructure projects.

Albertville Mayor Tracy Honea said his administration and the city council had worked during the past five years to get the city on solid financial footing. The city also received two increases in its credit rating, but is one of the few remaining municipalities in Alabama with an 8 percent sales tax.

The last time there was a sales tax increase in Albertville was in 1997. The city received 20 percent of a 1-cent sales tax — that amounts to two pennies out of every 10.

“Albertville is in good shape financially,” Honea said. “I think people want us to be aggressive and move Albertville forward. [A 1-cent tax] is what it’s going to take. It’s that or just keep going like we are and keep the status quo.

“It’s taken almost five years to get things in place, financially I feel like this is what we’ve been striving for. If we [build the recreation complex] and do it right, I think we’ll look back on this in 10 to 15 years and say this was the right decision.”

The current recreation complex covers 30 acres of a 100-acre plot of land between West McKinney Avenue and Nelson Road. If the council decides to move forward, the new complex would occupy nearly all 100 acres.

New facilities would include:

• three new tennis courts (for a total of 12)

• five 300-foot baseball/softball fields with restrooms and concession stands

• four 225-foot baseball/softball fields with restrooms and concession stands

• five multi-purpose fields with concession stands and restrooms

• an aquatic center with an outdoor competition pool and a splash pad

• an amphitheater

• a playground

• a dog park

• a walking trail

The new complex would have an entrance from U.S. Highway 431 through Motley Street on the north and an entrance on Wendy Lane from the south.

Albertville Parks and Recreation Director Philip Formby said if the council green lights the project, it would take about 30 days to have construction blueprints made and another 30 days to bid the contract. He estimated construction would begin as early as July or August.

INTL FCStone investment banker David Langham is underwriting the bonds and said investing in a recreation complex would help meet the needs of the city’s citizens.

“It’s going to be a premier facility for the citizens of Albertville,” Langham said. “It will accomplish everything as stated and is financially viable. This is a project I stand behind wholeheartedly.”

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