ASHVILLE — The St. Clair County Commission on Tuesday approved a resolution backing Springville’s efforts to include over 300 acres in the Forever Wild Land Trust program.
The commission unanimously approved a resolution pledging $150,000 from the county for the project, which would designate 382 acres off St. Clair 9 for the state program. That financial pledge matches the city of Springville’s commitment — approved in July — and according to Springville Mayor William Isley, that commitment has helped raise the city’s profile among the Forever Wild board.
“I can tell you that the room (at the last meeting) was full of other cities, but not one other mayor or county commissioner was present,” Isley said. “I think this would be a jewel, not just for the city of Springville, but an asset for the entire county and multiple other counties.
“Our council unanimously approved to back this project, and we hope and pray that this will come to Springville.”
The Forever Wild Land Trust has its next Board of Directors meeting Thursday at 10 a.m., at the Barber Motorsports Museum in Leeds (Page 3). Isley and county commission chairman Stan Batemon both said they plan to attend.
“If we can spread out that ($150,000) over a couple years, I don’t see it being a problem,” Batemon said. “If we have to write a check for $150,000 tomorrow, that’s a problem.”
The process is likely to take time — the land is currently under private ownership and will require an appraisal before the Forever Wild Land Trust can offer to purchase it. Springville has already agreed to be a managing partner for the park when it is completed, including providing fire and police protection.
Wendy Jackson, executive director of the Freshwater Land Trust (and a county resident), said the property compares favorably to Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson, as well as Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover.
“It’s not only a great amenity, it’s good for economic development as well,” Jackson said. “Turkey Creek produces around $1-$2 million per year for Pinson.
“I’ve worked on a lot of projects, and having the faces of the mayor and county commission at the (Forever Wild) meeting definitely makes a difference. If you make a commitment, you’re going to see a favorable response.”
Commissioner Ken Crowe said he saw favor in the project, but worried it might compete with two other projects the county is currently working on – specifically the Canoe Creek boat launch and the former site of Ft. Strother.
“Those projects are going to be in competition for the same money,” Crowe said. “If we’re willing to work out our commitment, this is a good project.”
Jackson said the Freshwater Land Trust could possibly help front the money for the match out of its Revolving Land Trust fund, with the understanding that the county could provide reimbursement.
“This property is as well-positioned as a property can be for this,” she said.
Isley stayed until the project was approved, and called it “an answered prayer.”
“I thank you for your help,” he said.