City leaders discuss projects

City leaders discuss projects
Artist rendering of a conference center city leaders hope to bring to Phenix City.

Phenix City leaders recently discussed some of the projects that are currently in the works, nearly completed, or are on their radar for the upcoming year.

The Phenix City Art Center  

Located at 1002 Airport Road, near Martin-Idle Hour Park, the art center is managed by the Phenix City Arts Council which has been around since 1968. The center is housed in a historical building that served as the airport administration building, back when there was a small, general aviation airport in Phenix City. The airport operated from 1947 until sometime between 1951-1962. The building is currently undergoing rehabilitation by the city. The roof was recently replaced along with ceiling tiles and the air conditioning system. Upcoming improvements include replacing the windows, flooring, and painting inside and out. 

Martin-Idle Hour Park 

Formerly owned by the late Roy Martin, the city acquired the park in 1951 for $225,000. The park was renamed Martin-Idle Hour Park in 2016 in honor of Martin and his family. In the 1940s, the park had a zoo, skating rink, amusement park rides, swimming pool, bowling alley, dance floor, and more. People even skied on the lake. The city has been working on sprucing up the park by painting and replacing or repairing amenities, which has been an ongoing process. 

Miracle Park

This specialized park will have features for handicapped children and will be located in Lakewood Park, west of the current ball fields and south of the Girls’ Club. The park is still in planning stages. According to Assistant City Manager Steve Smith, the field and surrounding picnic areas, as well as all approaches and walking areas, will be made handicap friendly. The field will be composed of a synthetic material. 

Public Safety Building 

The Public Safety Building will be undergoing renovation. An addition will be added to the front of the building to expand the council chambers and the courtroom. Plans are currently being drawn up by Barnes Gibson Partners Architects, LLC from Columbus. Currently, the project is two months behind schedule because of the pandemic. The total cost is estimated to be approximately $4 million. 

Conference Center and Hotel

In May of last year, City Manager Wallace Hunter asked if it was time for the city to build a hotel conference center. The answer was a resounding “yes.” With increasing requests for more event spaces in Phenix City, plans were drawn up. The community will be able to rent space for events, attend events, spend the night, shop, and eat. The complex is expected to revitalize downtown by drawing more retail and other businesses to the area. Right now, the venue is in the early planning and due diligence stages while the city works with private developers. Smith said there should be an update on the project later this summer. 

Landfill Expansion 

First proposed in November of 2018, the landfill expansion has been estimated to cost $939,000. The landfill at 44 Landfill Road used for construction and demolition waste, had reached near capacity and was closed to the public and non-city entities. Dumping had to be diverted to privately-owned Pine Hollow Landfill. In 2019, extensive hydrogeology and geotechnical work, environmental impact and other studies, as well as the Phase I engineering were completed. This year has allowed for the engineering and design as well as permitting. The project is expected to be completed in 2021. 

Riverwalk Wooden Bridge

A long wooden bridge on the Phenix City Riverwalk extends from Chattahoochee Brewing Company to the level ground walking toward the Phenix City Amphitheater. The bridge was constructed over 20 years ago and has deteriorated since then. Boards are splintered or have large holes in them. Runners and bikers have been complaining about the condition for years. The city is planning on replacing the bridge soon, and the price to replace it ranges from $400,000-$500,000. 

14th Avenue Park and Trail

The city is working in the preliminary stages of creating a park and walking trail on 14th Avenue. The city has purchased the property, but leaders are in the idea phase right now. They are hoping to have designs for the park soon and anticipate next fiscal year to begin construction. 

5th Street South Road Improvements

With the hopes of being finished this summer, 5th Street South from Highway 431 South to Seale Road has been under construction. Because of the added traffic from the community center, fields, pool, and police precinct, the road needed improvements. The city has been working to widen the road,  and add gutters and sidewalks. Cost for the project is around $500,000. 

Seale Road Bridge Replacement

Just south of 5th Street on Seale Road is an outdated bridge that city leaders say needs to be replaced. With the help of the state providing 80 percent of the $350,000 needed to do the construction, the city hopes to begin replacing the bridge next year. Because the state of Alabama is involved, approvals and funding could be a lengthy process. 

LED Street Light Conversion

Over the last few years, the city has been working with Alabama Power to replace bulbs in all city streetlights with LED bulbs. The project is nearly completed with lights on Highways 431 and 280 still needing to be replaced. Because those roads are under state jurisdiction rather than local, the city has to work with state officials to get those bulbs changed. Converting thousands of lights to more energy-efficient LED lights should save the city money on the power bill.