Lanett mayor updates Lions on mill cleanup

Published 4:00 pm Friday, July 5, 2019

LANETT — Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy said Monday that he’s pleased with the progress being made with the cleanup of the Lanett Mill site. He attributed it to the dedication of city employees to get this done and having the know-how to do it. McCoy was the guest speaker at the Monday evening meeting of the Valley Lions Club, held at El Rio Mexican Restaurant, which is just across Highway 29 from the site being cleaned up.

When asked if he and council members were looking at applying for a federal Brownfields grant to help with the cleanup, McCoy expressed some reluctance.

“If we went ahead and applied for it now it would probably take a year or so for it to be approved and for us to get the money,” he said. “The way we are going now, I think our guys will have it cleaned up by then. We have progressed much faster in the cleanup than we expected and are in the process of designing a site plan for future use.”

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The mayor said he appreciated hearing many positive comments on the way the work has been going since the city acquired the site from a previous owner in early June.

“It’s really looking good right now on both the north and south ends,” he said. “I think we will see a really big difference by this time next month. We have some really good people working out there right now.

”McCoy joked that “a lot of us can’t drive a straight shift” and that it’s good to have employees who know how to handle the big trucks being rented from Chris Clark along with such equipment as trackhoes and front-end loaders. 

“They have been working eight hours a day, seven days a week,” McCoy said. “Hopefully, we will continue to make steady progress there. The mill site has been the number one complaint this council has been hearing since the 2016 election.”

Current plans are to keep the water tower and the shelter out front where mill workers once waited for the CV nickel buses. That same shelter is clearly seen in a photo at Cobb Archives of President Roosevelt’s visit to the Valley in March 1940. FDR rode from one end of the Valley to the other in the back seat of a car, accompanied by Smith Lanier Sr. The event was witnessed with what’s believed to be the largest crowd ever gathered for a single event in Valley history.

McCoy thanked Chris Clark for the use of his trucks in moving dirt away from the site. He also thanked Phil Teague for hauling away scrap metal from the area. Brick dirt, he said, can be used at sites around the county.

Mayor McCoy said he was also pleased with progress being made on the new fountain in downtown Lanett. The new fountain is going to be much larger than the original fountain and will have an elaborate spray and lighting system. The original fountain went in on that site 50 years ago this summer. The city had acquired the triangle property, which had once been owned by a gas station and taxi company.

“Our new fountain has taken a life of its own,” McCoy said. “We hope to finish it in the next month.”

Much progress has been made on the third phase of the downtown streetscape project. This will complete the west side link from downtown to Cherry Drive. The city should soon hear whether or not a grant has been approved for Phase IV, which will do the east side of the street. Much of the work being done on Phases III and IV is going underground and designed to alleviate the flash flooding problems frequently occurring on North Lanier Avenue after heavy downpours.

Once Phase IV is completed, the next step will be to have similar improvements along First Street from Highway 29 to 8th Avenue near Veterans Park and W.O. Lance Elementary School.

“North Lanier and First Street are the two main entrances to town,” Mayor McCoy explained.

The mayor said that grading is under way for a new terminal at the Lanett Municipal Airport. Work on the building could start by the end of the year. Paving on the new runway should start in a few weeks. The new runway will be some 4,400 feet in length, or approximately 1,100 feet longer than the old one. Once that’s complete, work will start on another extension that will lengthen it to 5,400 feet, or more than one mile. This will be funded by an $8.1 million FAA grant.

“An airport with a runway that’s more than a mile in length will be a big boost for commercial and industrial recruitment for Chambers County,” McCoy said. “We need to be thinking about what’s good for Chambers County as a whole. We need to get past thinking about Lanett, Valley and LaFayette. We need to think about the county as a whole. Valley has a lot of land that can be developed. The airport will help them with that.”

The mayor said there’s a possibility of building a new road to the airport from Phillips Road.

“We have several options on that, depending on the kind of funding we can get,” he said.

The $8.1 million grant for the 1,000-foot extension didn’t just happen.

“For several years now, we have made at least two trips a year to Washington to talk about this,” he said. “We are very excited to have gotten this $8.1 million grant. Sen. Richard Shelby did a great job for us on this. He believes that what we are doing will be good for our future. The Chambers County Development Authority did great work on this too.”

McCoy said that Exit 77 off I-85 is the Valley’s future growth sector. “Rail, highway and air access are all there,” the mayor said.

What’s really needed in the local area are more rooftops. “We need people moving here,” McCoy said. “Growth is all around us. Opelika-Auburn and Troup County are booming. We need to be growing, too.”