City of Valley reclaims Riverdale mill site, eyes potential for future development

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

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VALLEY — For a second time, the City of Valley is the owner of the Riverdale Mill site. At Monday’s meeting of the city council, a resolution was approved to accept a donation of the 17-acre site from Riverdale Mill LLC, which had owned it for several years. The land has an appraised value of $585,000.

Valley acquired the land for the first time in 2006. The city had previously purchased the 25-acre Langdale Mill site two years earlier, in 2004.

At the time, it was hoped the two mill buildings could be developed for future use. Environmental studies were performed to find out if any contaminants were on the sites that could jeopardize redevelopment. Some possible substances were discovered, and Brownfields projects followed to remove them.

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Investors were hesitant to commit to either site for possible redevelopment and the decision was made to tear down the historic structures and clean off the sites. The Henry Hudson Company acquired the land from the city for that purpose. Their investment paid off with the sales of the heart pine timber, historic brick and metal they salvaged from the buildings.

The company missed some deadlines on having the Riverdale site completely cleared of debris. Owners decided to give the land back to the city and to be free from that obligation. Henry Hudson still owns the Langdale site. A portion of that mill still exists and could possibly be converted to a new use, such as a textile museum. There are no specific plans to do that, but it’s the one place still left in the local area that could serve that purpose.

Following Monday’s approval of a resolution to accept the Riverdale Mill site, Mayor Leonard Riley said the city would complete the clean up work on the site with its own equipment.

The city will also be using its equipment on another project. The council at Monday’s meeting approved another resolution to do some site work at Fairfax Elementary School. The Chambers County Board of Education has approved plans for some improvements at the school. The city will use its equipment to do some grading and site prep work on the site that will be needed for this project. At the completion of its portion of the work, the city will bill the BOE for that work.

Having the city do the needed work is the quickest way to get it done. There’s no need to seek bids, have a bid opening and to award a contract.

In other business, the council approved easements to allow the East Alabama Water, Sewer and Fire Protection District to install water and sewer lines on the Burney property, a site owned by the city off Fob James Drive. This is a prime area for commercial and industrial development. A new shopping center and an ammo plant could be coming to the site.

The council held a second reading and sold a 1.5-acre lot on Cusseta Road to Barrett Watson, who offered $5,000 for the land. That’s considered the fair market value. The council held first readings of ordinances to sell several city-owned lots to Henry Meadows. He has offered $1,750 each for lots on Wellington Street, Foster Circle and 15th Avenue and a total of $2,500 for three lots on Greenberry Circle. The action could be approved following a second reading at the July 24th council meeting.

The council also approved the sale of a surplus item. Barry Ferrell has agreed to pay $4,000 for a 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe.

The council approved an alcohol license for the Triangle Service Station on the south end of town. This is being done because the ownership of the business is changing from Niraliben Bibubhai Patel to On Sai Leela Inc. The existing business has an alcohol license and recently passed a police inspection to continue the license under new ownership.

Chief Mike Reynolds told the council that the annual Junior Police Academy is taking place this week under the direction of Lt. Sandra Crim. A graduation ceremony will be taking place at 11 a.m. this Friday at Lakeview Cabin. (The Community Center is unavailable that day due to the District Masters Games taking place). In October, Valley will be the host site for this year’s state games.

Reynolds asked local residents to keep Officer Jessie Steis in their thoughts and prayers. He’s recovering from a mild heart attack.

Valley Parks & Recreation Director Laurie Blount told the council that the annual Free Tomato Sandwich Day will be taking place this Friday at Valley Farners Market. It will be going on from 3 to 6 p.m. EDT and everyone’s invited.

Blount said everyone in Valley should be proud of the performances by members of the Valley Swim Team at the recent district meet held in the Community Center pool. A total of 30 of the team’s 34 swimmers qualified for the state meet to be held in Birmingham. One of the swimmers, Drew Leak, finished in first place in three separate events – the 9 & 10-year-old boys 100-yard free style, the 50-yard free style and the 50-yard backstroke.

Another member of the team, Finlay Hooks, was first in the girls 6 and under 25-yard backstroke. Members of the team had numerous second and third-place finishes.

City Clerk Treasurer Cathy Snowden reported that the city’s ending balance for June had topped the $10 million mark. It now stands at $10,080,651.40 for the most recent reporting period. It was close to this in a meeting last month, prompting Council Member Jim Clark to kid her about getting it over $10 million. “If I had known she could do that,” he joked Monday, “I would have asked her to do it a long time ago.”

Clark urged the Good Samaritans out there to look for ways they can help neighbors who are elderly. “You can help them by doing yard work or going to the store for them,” he said. “It would mean a lot to them if you would step up to do favors for them.”