On the surface, an agriculture center (ag center) doesn't sound too appealing. Why is it being discussed for the Florence area and not somewhere near Center Star or Central Heights? We asked our friend Nigel Knorr about the center, and here are his answers:
|Our Agriculture Correspondent Nigel|
Agricultural Center is what they keep calling this new event venue which I feel is the wrong name, totally. It's going to actually be a multi-use event arena type venue. It will seat 10,000 people for a concert type event. It will also convert into a rodeo arena or a trade show type setup as well as multiple volleyball or basketball courts to host huge tournaments, among other things.
The model they are looking to for suggestions is the one in Williamson County Tennessee, just south of Nashville off I-65. It is also referred to as an agri-center. That might be the “in thing” to call big buildings like this now BUT it could also be what the USDA requires them to call it because that is where Lauderdale County will borrow the funds.
The legislative delegation (all of them except Larry Stutts) are all in agreement that this facility will be an awesome investment into the community. They are looking at an 162 are tract behind the Florence Fire Station out on Hwy 72 between Shoal Creek and Cox Creek Pky (beside Shoals Outdoor Sports). They also looked at land in Rogersville and another location that was mentioned was out Hwy 157 towards the Central Community.
This location was chosen because it is centrally located and at the time it was decided on, there were plans from the ALDOT to 6 lane Hwy 72 between Shoal Creek and Cox Creek Pky. Since the gas tax bill died in the Senate last week, sadly, that project did too. According to Lynn Greer, the gas tax bill cannot be brought up again for 2 years.
Again, to reiterate, this a project of the Lauderdale County Commission!!!! Let that sink in a while. Think back to when you have witnessed Lauderdale County entering into any type project willingly that would be this awesome and actually be something EVERYONE could use and benefit from!!!
I am guessing the last project of this magnitude was the Florence Lauderdale Coliseum. If Florence would act like they have some business sense, they might even get in on the name of this new Agri-Center with a name like the Florence Lauderdale Agri-Center. At this point, I would be more inclined to call it the NW Alabama Agri Center.
When Dewey Mitchell was at the helm, it never happened and would never even be considered. The County has money!!!!! All of the Lauderdale County Commissioners were at the meeting as well as the County Administrator. The potential of growth and revenue that would pour into our county would be tremendous.
The biggest winner in this project would be the city of Florence. It was said during the meeting that if Florence didn’t want it, then Killen would sure take it in a heart beat. Dick Jordan wanted to whine around about the sewer and water lines it would take to run out to that property Blah Blah Blah I can name you 50 cities in the state of Alabama that would jump on an opportunity like this.
Now, there are other players in the game such as the USDA who want to move their offices to this facility and pay the county rent for those offices. Also, the Lauderdale County Board of Education wants to build a new vocational school and guess what? They want to build it here with the agri-center now because they feel it will be a WIN WIN situation. Now Northwest Shoals would like to partner with this project and work with the Board of Education to develop a strong workforce development center as this same location.
Again - I have to ask…What are Dick Jordan’s issues? The only issues I see with Old Dick is that he has been there WAY too long and thinks that every single project should come thru him, regardless of where it is located etc. Those City of Florence representatives sat in that meeting acting like they were being asked to provide water, sewer, electricity and all the materials to build the center for free. Senator Melson made it clear that there was nothing about this project that they had requested from the City of Florence that would not be paid for by the County.
Now in order to move forward at this time with preliminary plans, it must first go thru the proper channels in Montgomery. The legislative session ends onwhich is quickly approaching but we can’t move ahead because we got Larry Stutts fighting us on this issue. Why? We have no idea. Unless he and Dick Jordan an padding their pockets, they are not interested. Shame on them both.
We recently saw a letter to the TD editor basically opposing the proposed UNA student apartment complex on West Irvine Avenue. The writer compared the complex to the old garbage dump once situated near the property. In case it hasn't been made clear before, the city will not approve this complex without some contingencies, including a detailed traffic study. Florence's planning director Melissa Bailey is not someone who simply defers to the highest bidder; she has integrity and will insure that current West Irvine Avenue residents are not thrown under the bus.