Friday, April 18, 2014

City looks to help expand sewer service in Holt; improve Hurricane Creek Park

City looks to help expand sewer service in Holt; improve Hurricane Creek Park

From Tuscaloosa News

Trees change color along Hurricane Creek at Hurricane Creek Park in Cottondale, Ala. Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.
Staff file | Tuscaloosa News
Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 1:00 a.m.
Calling it a “spirit of cooperation,” the Tuscaloosa City Council is looking to approve two requests from the Tuscaloosa County Commission that will bring sewer services to Holt residents and improve the park at Hurricane Creek.
At the request of County Commissioner Jerry Tingle and Farrington Snipes, Tuscaloosa County's director of planning and community development, the council's Public Projects Committee agreed Tuesday to let Holt residents tie on to the city's sewer system without being annexed.
City policy mandates that those outside the city limits who want access to the city's sanitary sewer network must first become city residents and taxpayers, but the City Council can waive the requirement under certain circumstances.
Among these circumstances are requests from other governmental agencies. The City Council previously has granted permission for a smaller group of Holt residents to tie in to the city's sewer network.
The work is being funded by $9.023 million in federal disaster relief grants that the Tuscaloosa County government sought from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs as a means to spur storm recovery efforts in this area.
County taxpayers are making up the remaining $2.644 million that will deliver sewer services to 295 existing homes and could serve an additional 487 houses, should they be built.
Bids on the estimated $2.9 million Phase I are expected to be opened next month, while the $8.768 million Phase II remains in the planning stages.
No city funds were requested on Tuesday. The only permission the county asked of City Hall was the ability to tie in to the existing system once Phase II is completed.
The full City Council is expected to vote on approving the county's request next week.
“I think it went well,” Tingle said of Tuesday's request. “We'll just have to see how it goes as we move along. It's a very expensive project.”
Councilman Kip Tyner, chairman of the council's Public Projects Committee, agreed, especially since the sewer line extensions will bring sewer services to a pocket of city residents in the East Park neighborhood, which is otherwise surrounded by county jurisdiction.
These residents have made repeated requests for sewer services, Tyner said, but until now have been denied.
“They've been a long-suffering neighborhood, but they've always been respectful,” Tyner said. “I'm really happy about this today.”
Park project
Tyner and the rest of the committee were also receptive to a request to help Tingle and county officials improve Hurricane Creek Park. However, the committee decided to wait until next month to approve a request for $200,000.
Tingle said he already had obtained permission from his fellow county commissioners to use $200,000 of his discretionary funds to improve access to the park off Alabama Highway 216 by paving a lengthy entryway, while adding a self-composting restroom on-site.
“It's a worthwhile project,” Tingle said. “It's used by a lot of folks.”
The park is managed by the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority, but because its 249 acres lie in both city and county jurisdiction, its upkeep is the responsibility of both.
Gary Minor, PARA executive director, said PARA work crews have difficulty accessing garbage cans and other areas of the park, while parkgoers have been known to use wooded areas of the park because there are no restrooms.
The council committee was supportive of the request but wants additional time to find where the $200,000 could come from.
“This is a real opportunity for another great partnership with the county,” Tyner said.
Reach Jason Morton at or 205-722-0200.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Friends of Hurricane Creek, PARA team up to clean up with volunteers

Friends of Hurricane Creek, PARA team up to clean up with volunteers

HONORS COLLEGE CLEANUP 06-15-13 -- Peterson, Ala. -- Savannah Chandler, 18, from Ft. Myers, Fl., carries debris to be discarded during a cleanup along Hurricane Creek in Peterson, Ala. Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. More than 100 Honors College students at the University of Alabama worked on a community service project cleaning up tornado debris around the creek through the Outdoor Action service learning projects.(Dusty Compton / Tuscaloosa News) Tuscaloosa News

Published: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 4:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 4:27 p.m.
For the first time, the Friends of Hurricane Creek and the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority are partnering to clean up Hurricane Creek. But they're going to need some help.
Volunteers are requested to assist in removing trash and debris from Hurricane Creek, Watson's Bend and Hurricane Creek Park on Alabama Highway 216 starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.

"This will be the first joint effort by the groups to clean up, preserve and protect Hurricane Creek," said Hurricane Creekkeeper John L. Wathen, who heads the Friends of Hurricane Creek organization. "We hope it leads to many years of such cooperation."

Wathen said the clean-up that began with 16 volunteers now has an average attendance of more than 60.

This year, Friends of Hurricane Creek will have 12 canoes (enough room for 24 people) to assist with navigating the creek during the clean-up, but Wathen asked that any volunteer who has a canoe to bring it along.
Shuttles also will be available to drive volunteers between the clean-up locations and the parking area on Highway 216.

Drinks, water, and snacks will be available to all volunteers during the cleanup and a pot-luck lunch will follow at the Holt Peterson Road crossing, where organizers are asking for dishes to serve the volunteers
The pot-luck will coincide with the 1:30 p.m. dedication of the bridge over Hurricane Creek on Holt Peterson Road to honor Jimmy and Addalyne Watson.

Wathen said the Watsons were the first donors to the Friends of Hurricane Creek when they contributed $20 toward feeding the volunteers during the first clean-up 21 years ago.

Those wishing to attend only the lunch and the bridge dedication are asked to be at the Watson's Bend site by 1 p.m., Wathen said.

With sunset, a bonfire will be lit for those who wish to hang out on the creek. Also, Friends of Hurricane Creek chip mulch made from trees toppled during the April 27, 2011 tornado at $5 per bag at the Watson's Bend site.

For more information about Friends of Hurricane Creek or details on the clean-up, contact Wathen at 205-507-0867.

For those wanting additional information on how to help preserve Hurricane Creek and the PARA-operated park connected to it, contact Becky Booker, PARA's public relations and marketing manager, at 205-562-3220.
Reach Jason Morton at or 205-722-0200.