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Valley looks to purchase over 300 acres

VALLEY — The City of Valley is in the process of purchasing more land. At Monday’s regular meeting, the council unanimously backed a recommendation by Mayor Leonard Riley to purchase the 16-acre Fairfax Mill site and after a 30-minute executive session authorized the mayor to negotiate the purchase of a 300-acre site off Fob James Drive not far from Exit 77 on I-85.

The mill property is being purchased from Eac Enterprises LLC for just under $125,000. It’s the entire Fairfax Mill site except for the East Alabama Fire Station site on one side and the Humane Society building and a parking lot on the other side. In its 102-year history, the Fairfax community has been known for its village green near the mill. The land purchase seeks to expand on that community amenity.

“We intend to turn it into green space,” said Mayor Riley. “It’s a mess there now, and we want people to understand that the clean-up will be slow. Our first priority is to use our equipment on the sites we have purchased that are prime locations for commercial or industrial development.”

The second site the city is interested in purchasing is commonly known as the Burney property. It’s located across Fob James Drive from Steak & Shake and Zaxby’s. Burney Farms LLC and Burney Acres LLC along with S.L. Burney IV and Sandra Burney are the current owners. It will take three separate contracts to consummate the sale.

The chances are good that this will be taking place and once it does, the City of Valley will own approximately 1,100 acres of prime real estate right off the Interstate.

This will have to be one of the most valued sites for future development anywhere along I-85 between Atlanta and Montgomery. It’s exceedingly rare to find one owner that close to Interstate access that wants to develop the property.

This acreage would include three separate purchases. The first was from former WestPoint Stevens entities and is located behind the Lanier-Carter site. Site preparation is under way at the present time on 30 acres of that land for a future WestRock distribution center.

This site is around 400 acres and includes the former Lakeview Cabin, which has been renovated for future use.

Adjoining this site is the 400-acre Combs property, which the city is prepared to close on. Much of this land is behind the former WestPoint Stevens transportation facility.

Those two sites, along with the 300-acre Burney site (should a potential sale go through) would give the city control over 1,100 acres with rapid access off I-85.

There is some significant timber on the Burney site. A timber cruise will determine its value and will be figured into the sale price.

In other action on Monday, the city agreed to enter an agreement with Alabama Power to switch to LED lighting on its poles in the city. This lighting tends to be brighter, more energy efficient and cheaper. The changer over will take several months.

The council rejected bids on resurfacing the gym floor and pool deck at the Community Center after they came in much higher than expected. Since only one bid was received, Mayor Riley can negotiate a lower price with that sole bidder.

An 11-item consent agenda was approved to authorize liens on properties the city has absorbed costs on to clean up. The properties are located at 2201 58th Street, 408 and 410 LaFayette Street, 2106 42nd Street, 5607 and 5609 16th Avenue, 5201 20th Avenue, 1516 55th Street, 2401 36th Street, 115 Church Street and a site on 23rd Boulevard.

Police Chief Tommy Weldon reported to the council that this summer’s Junior Police Academy is under way at the Community Center.

“We had 55 kids this morning,” he said. “The participation is good this year and everyone seems to be having a good time.”

Valley Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Blount said that the Community Center will be hosting a swim meet next week and the District meet in July. A District baseball tournament will be starting next Friday.

Blount said that some much needed grading work had been finished at Ram Stadium. She said that the stadium is open for walkers but urged that people stay off the playing surface inside the stadium.

Similar work has taken place on a couple of fields at the Sportsplex.

Public Works Director Patrick Bolt said that, weather permitting, paving will start this week in the city.

“We’ll start on 23rd Boulevard and on 55th and 56th Streets,” he said. “Most of the pipe work has been finished on California Road but we’re still a couple of weeks out on River Road.”

River Road/California Road will be the city’s major resurfacing project this year.

Bolt said that Chambers County would soon be paving Ben Brown Road from Highway 29 to the Lee County line. He asked motorists to be aware of that.

Shawmut community resident Elbert Sanders complained of dogs running at large in his neighborhood and defecating in his yard.

“When I complain to their owners, they tell me they will come and clean it up, but they never do,” he said. “What can I do about this?”

Chief Weldon told Mr. Sanders that he’d talked to the city’s animal control officer and had been told that a citation had been written in this case and it was due to come up in court.