McCoy says Lanett, Valley working together

Published 6:49 pm Thursday, May 30, 2019

LANETT — Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy brought up the longtime talk of consolidation of Lanett and Valley on Thursday, saying it’s better to have great cooperation between the two cities than one city of 20,000 people.

McCoy said that high population number, which would be among the top 10 biggest cities in the state, “wouldn’t get us another Walmart or another McDonalds” without other factors.

Coming together as one city is not a new idea. There have been efforts in the past to do that, but they all came up short.

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McCoy said something new is taking place now — better cooperation between the two cities.

McCoy discussed this at Thursday’s meeting of the West Point Rotary Club, where he was the guest speaker.

“Valley doesn’t have an airport. We do,” McCoy said. “We don’t have a lot of land to develop. Valley does. It’s important for the two cities to have a spirit of cooperation. Cooperation with each other is an alternative to consolidation. We may have two cities, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have one community. We need to look at what’s best for the economic development of Chambers County.”

McCoy believes exit 77 has a great future. On one side, Lanett is expanding its airport to be able to land private jets. On the opposite side, Valley has purchased an estimated 1,150 acres of land and is preparing it for future industrial or commercial development. No other city between Atlanta and Montgomery has that kind of land right off the interstate and ready for development.

The Lanett Airport was recently approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for an $8.1 million grant for continued improvements.

“It’s a big deal for us,” McCoy said. “It’s a 100 percent grant. That means we have to put up no matching funds. We will start construction on it in 2020 and in two to three years we will have an airport with a runway of 5,400 feet. That’s longer than the one in Auburn.”

The current expansion will lengthen the runway from 3,100 to 4,400 feet. Another 1,000-foot expansion will extend it well past one mile. That’s a big selling point when talking to commercial or industrial prospects looking to expand.

“People look at your air travel capabilities when they are looking at a new plant site,” McCoy said. “They want to have ready access to an airport with private plane capability.”

The $8.1 million grant approved for Lanett is the largest amount of money approved by the FAA for any one location in Alabama this year. A total of $20 million was approved for the entire state and $750 million for the entire United States.

“We are working toward getting it constructed as fast as we can,” McCoy said.

Future goals include having a new terminal and a new access road.

The city will be taking ownership of the Lanett Mill site on Monday, June 3.

“We are developing a plan to clean it up,” McCoy said. “It will be a lot faster with us than it would have been with the former owner. We should be ready for action within the next 30 to 60 days. We will be doing it the right way within the rules.”

The mayor said he’d like for the site to have future use as a location for light industry or commercial use. Something that could be taking place in the relatively near future is a small solar farm. It could be developed on a one-acre site next to Sandy’s Service Center. It will be identical to one next to the AMEA office in Montgomery. That’s the colonial-style building off I-85 with fountains in front.

McCoy said that work has started on the final phase of the new downtown fountain. It could be in operation by July 4. The old foundation has been refurbished and will be relocated to Dean Park, just across the street from city hall.