Construction has been underway for months, and according to Albertville Mayor Tracy Honea, Sand Mountain Park & Amphitheater (SMPA) is coming along well.
“There’s so many moving parts to this project, and it’s taken a lot of people to get things done,” Honea said. “It’s been a long time coming. I love seeing things progress.”
According to Honea, SMPA would not only be a place for Albertville residents, but it would be of value to the communities in surrounding areas.
“The park was named Sand Mountain Park for a reason — yes, it’s about our community — but, this is bigger than just our community,” Honea said. “This is something that we want to make inviting to the surrounding areas to be a part of.”
SMPA will have many features for the community to benefit from, and Honea said it would serve as an attractive destination for sports tournament play and entertainment.
“Speaking of entertainment, a unique and exciting aspect of the park will be the addition of Sand Mountain Amphitheater — an 8,000-plus capacity, state-of-the-art venue designed to professionally accommodate a wide variety of events with the capability to host local and regional talent to national recording artists,” Honea said.
Along with pavilions and approximately four miles of walking trails — some are pedestrian only and others are designed for biking and hiking — Honea said there would be an aquatics center included in the 100,000-plus square-foot, two-story recreation facility. He said the recreation facility would have an indoor, competition-style pool, outdoor aquatics with a lap/leisure pool, zero-depth entry, lazy river with vortex, water slides, splash pad and additional play features. Also, he said the recreation facility would be home to four hardwood basketball/volleyball courts with additional basketball and volleyball courts outside. Additionally, he said there would be racquetball courts, group fitness rooms, an elevated walking track, locker rooms, meeting and party rooms, childcare and more.
“We’re still hoping for the recreation center package to be completed by the end of May or first of June — that’s the goal,” Honea said. “We’re doing everything we can to hit that target date.”
According to Honea, SMPA would include 16 tennis courts — including four clay tennis courts — six softball fields, five baseball fields and five multipurpose fields — for football, soccer and lacrosse. He said each of the fields would be equipped with all-weather turf.
“That [field] package should finish up around the first of March,” Honea said about opening the fields. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure we will be able to do all of the spring ball activities next year — baseball, softball, all of the spring sports.
“I think we’re in a good place in the project,” he continued. “The weather has finally cooperated. We were off to a wet start in the beginning. I do think both contractors have done a really good job of trying to stay ahead of the schedule. I’m very thankful that these guys, as a whole, are working together very well. As a community, there’s a lot of excitement out there.”
Project Manager Mike Brewer, who is also Personnel and Purchasing Director for the City of Albertville, said he believes the work at SMPA is exceptional.
“We couldn’t have a better team working on this project,” Brewer said. “Carmon Smith of Carmon Construction is leading a very experienced team of people who have done outstanding work in providing Albertville with what will be among the most special sports complexes in the country. Carmon, being an Albertville firm, is able to showcase their workmanship in their hometown, which makes this an extra special project for them and us. It’s not something you get to do every day.”
Also, Brewer spoke highly of general contracting company Ra-Lin & Associates. He said the company’s commitment to quality has been evident from day one.
Brewer mentioned a host of other businesses and contractors, many local to Sand Mountain, who are filling major roles in the construction phase, as well.
According to Brewer, Hoar Project Management (HPM), of Birmingham, has played a key part in the project management side of the design phase, development phase and the construction phase.
“Early on, we knew the size, complexity and unique construction strategies of this project would require the guidance of a world-class project management firm,” Brewer said. “HPM has been integral in facilitating the large coordination effort for this project. When you have this many contractors and sub-contractors all sharing the same piece of property, you need to have a plan. HPM has been a great partner in providing the strategy needed for such an undertaking.”
An additional feature of the park the community and visitors would be proud of are the extensive playgrounds, according to Paige Ishmael, landscape architect with Dix+Hite Partners. Ishmael said 97.2% of all play equipment featured in SMPA is handicapped accessible, and 100% of the playgrounds’ landscape and ground plane — engineered wood fiber — are also designed to be accessible.
Along with the numerous playgrounds strategically placed in the park, Honea said additional open-space play areas could be found throughout the park’s master plan and design concept, which was created by Chambless King Architects, of Montgomery.
“We are pleased to note that after extensive site development efforts the Sand Mountain Park and Amphitheater is now coming ‘out of the ground,’” John Chambless, principal owner of Chambless King, said. “All the hard work that the city, design team and now the construction teams have put into this extraordinary amenity for the city is now starting to take shape. The exciting park that has been so long envisioned by both the Albertville City leaders and the engaged citizens that advised the design team is on track for its grand opening next year.”
Other elements featured at SMPA include two dog parks, RV park, disc golf, fitness gym, individual and group fitness opportunities and areas, and indoor and outdoor concessions areas.
Honea said he is grateful for the dedication and hard work of all involved with the SMPA project.
“I just want to give credit to everybody for working together well,” Honea said. “From the long, extensive planning stages to the construction — I mean everybody, especially the city council, Albertville Parks and Recreation Director Phillip Formby and staff, Chambless King Architects and all parties who have led us where we are today in this project.
“To me, it’s so important for us to keep positive momentum,” he continued. “Quality of life is so important for any community, and that’s what I really feel like the value of this is. For local employers and industries, I think it will help with recruitment and be a reason for employees to want to locate to Albertville. Coupled with our already world-class school system, this will just be another driving factor for positive growth and quality living for our area.”