O'Mary reports progress on housing, smart city status


Jasper Mayor David O'Mary says action is being taken toward the housing and smart city planks in his five-year plan for the city. 

"This five-year plan that was rolled out is not a dust-collector," O'Mary told the Jasper City Council at its meeting Tuesday. "It is in motion. We will be a smart city. We will figure out a way to stimulate housing growth in this city." 

The five-year  Retail and Industrial Growth, Housing and Technology (R.I.G.H.T.) plan was introduced by the mayor in a speech in March. 

O'Mary said the leadership of the local realty board has reached out to talk about how housing development will be stimulated in Jasper.

"Next week, we'll join with the most senior leadership of the board and begin to develop some plan for how we promote this city," O'Mary said. 

He noted that Alabama Power "knows every reputable developer in this state, certainly in their service area." He said the utility has committed to bring those people to the city to discuss stimulating housing growth. 

"It plays a big role in the growth of your city," he said. "It brings a tremendous amount of sales tax revenue, which is the life blood of this city." 

After the meeting, O'Mary said that while he could not speak for the housing leaders who will meet, he anticipated that efforts at housing would probably focus on attracting someone to develop a new subdivision and efforts to eleviate the commute from Birmingham, as well as making the housing affordable. 

O'Mary pointed to a major business group that he said is "top drawer" in telling municipalities what they need to do to be a smart city. "Smart cities" is used as a term for cities that are trying to be more connected through technology and information systems. 

"I'm pleased to tell you those folks will be in Jasper, Alabama, next week," he said. "I'm pleased to tell you Jasper, Alabama, will be the only small city stop they will make," leaving Jasper to then go to major cities in the U.S. He said the group will present a template of what needs to be done to be a smart city.