Council gets first look at recovery plan, progress report
by Jennifer Cohron
Dec 15, 2011 | 5020 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cordova City Council members got their first look at the city’s Long-Term Community Recovery Plan Tuesday night. The 80-page booklet details rebuilding projects such as the Piggly Wiggly, Main Street, the town’s ball fields (pictured above), a library, medical clinic and stations for the police and fire departments.  Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
Cordova City Council members got their first look at the city’s Long-Term Community Recovery Plan Tuesday night. The 80-page booklet details rebuilding projects such as the Piggly Wiggly, Main Street, the town’s ball fields (pictured above), a library, medical clinic and stations for the police and fire departments. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
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Cordova — City Council members got their first look at the city’s Long-Term Community Recovery Plan Tuesday night.

Most of the 80-page booklet details tornado-related rebuilding projects such as Piggly Wiggly, Main Street, ball fields, a library, medical clinic and stations for the police and fire departments.

It also identifies various other needs, including a housing resource center and Recovery Manager to oversee long-term rebuilding efforts.

The plan, which was developed with assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), is partially based on community input gathered at several public meetings held this summer.

Mayor Jack Scott asked the council members to review the plan and be prepared to vote on it at the next meeting.

“We’ve got to do this because it opens up the door for grants. If we don’t have it, then we really can’t get some of the money,” Scott said.

Cost estimates for each project as well as potential funding sources and gaps are included throughout the document.

Scott said although the city will be receiving help from the state and federal government to fund the recovery, Cordova does not have a blank check.

“It’s costing us 12 and a half percent and those 12 and a half percents are adding up. It’s money the city doesn’t have. This thing isn’t free. We’re going to be in a bind,” Scott said.

The plan also recommends that Cordova’s Long-Term Recovery Committee work with local leaders and the community to develop project timelines and identify high-profile initiatives that will attract additional investment and redevelopment.

Council member Drew Gilbert asked for updates Tuesday night on the four projects that have weighed most heavily on residents’ minds since April 27 — downtown, the Piggly Wiggly, the Old Park and the medical clinic.

Scott said he expects the city to receive federal approval for downtown demolitioin by mid-January.

He added that the fire on Main Street that occurred in October has slowed down the process.

Local leaders should have a final plan in place regarding Piggly Wiggly by March, according to Scott.

The project is expected to cost more than $1.7 million, most of which will be used for building construction.

“The grocery store itself is not the issue; it’s the building. If we had a building, we’d already have a grocery store,” Scott said.

Scott also cited land acquisition and the need for market research as other obstacles to restoring grocery service in Cordova.

Scott said members of the medical board have announced their intention to rebuild the clinic near its former location. He added that he does not know how or if the board intends to use the modular unit that was set up several weeks after the tornado.

Work to rebuild the ball fields at the old park has already begun. Scott said the city is expected to receive federal funding of up to 75 percent on the renovation, which is budgeted for $400,000 in the plan.

Fire Chief Dean Harbison, who was given the position of disaster relief coordinator after the storm, said the Old Park is one of more than 10 large projects on the city’s agenda that require federal approval to move forward.

“A lot of people have questioned why the ball field comes first. That’s the only one FEMA has released,” Harbison said.

In other action, the council:

•approved an amendment to the business license ordinance that raises the issue fee from $5 to $10.

Scott said the increase was the result of Revenue Discovery Systems (RDS) charging the city more for its tax collection services.

•learned that the fire department will soon be temporarily relocating to the gym of the old high school.

“Hopefully, in less than two weeks we will be inside and fully operational,” Harbison said.

•was given a progress report on the sidewalk project that is underway in the city’s school district.

Scott said the work should be completed in a little more than a month if the weather stays fair.

•received copies of the 2010 audit.

During the meeting, Scott also praised the city’s newest restaurant, The Mill House, and said a citizen-led effort has begun to rebuild the veteran’s monument that was destroyed in the tornadoes.

A Cordova Veterans Memorial fund has been established at First Bank of Jasper’s Cordova branch to accept public donations.