Scottsboro City Mayor Jim McCamy delivered the State of the City address on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Because of COVID the speech was given virtually with the help and virtual capabilities of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority and Executive Director Nathan Lee. The Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce hosted and coordinated the event.
The Mayor also thanked others, stating, “To the Scottsboro City Council for being supportive, engaged and involved in what we are working to accomplish together. And a big thank you to the city’s strongest asset, our city employees, who work daily to maintain and improve our community.”
He continued, “Before I get into the specifics of where we are and where we are going, I first want to mention three recent events of the past two weeks. It’s spring time in North Alabama, and we have had our share of severe weather the past two weeks. We were fortunate here, and although we had significant flash flooding, we did not experience the devastating tornadoes like some of our neighboring communities. I ask that you please keep these communities in your thoughts and prayers.
Last week, the City Council recognized the Scottsboro High School Boys Basketball team. This year was their first time to make it to the final four since 1967. Congratulations to Coach Bell and this year’s Wildcats. Also, thank you to the citizens of Scottsboro for showing your continuous support.
This past Friday, we officially unveiled the Scottsboro Boys mural on the square. Ms. Katie Kirkland and the Main Street Scottsboro Board did an incredible job of bringing this to reality. Working with the Scottsboro Boys Museum (SBM) Board, they retained Mr. Don Howard, a nationally renowned African American artist, to produce the mural. This concept was vetted by the SBM Board. Various thoughts were presented along with historic and current photographs. Mr. Howard selected the photos, and the final concept, which was then approved by the SBM Board. This mural accurately connects our past and those involved in 1931 to the present, with the prayer walk from the museum to the square on June 14th of last year. We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone involved for this accurate and fitting depiction of the past and present.”
“Seven months ago, I committed to foster a culture of communication, collaboration and cooperation. This culture, utilizing those three elements, is creating transparency and positive outcomes throughout city government as well as the community. To that end, the Commercial Development Authority, Downtown Redevelopment Authority, Main Street Scottsboro, Goose Pond Colony, Jackson County EDA, Scottsboro IDB and the Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce all play a significant role.” Regular meetings among these entities were initiated in December to keep everyone on the same page.
“Scottsboro currently has an A+ bond rating; for a community of our size, this is excellent.”
Despite the pandemic, Scottsboro is financially sound with a total revenue of $22.78 million for the 2021 fiscal year. The bulk of these funds goes to the major departments, such as fire, law enforcement, streets, sanitation, landfill and recreation, with salary and benefits taking 58.36% of this budget.
The Mayor also addressed the condition of the streets and the resurfacing efforts currently underway.
“In November I committed to establish both a short-term and five-year resurfacing plan. This City Council is fully engaged and budgeted $200,000 for resurfacing in FY2021. Scottsboro has some 399 named streets that cover about 180 miles. We asked for input from several sources and organizations, and have worked closely with City Departments and the Water Sewer and Gas Board to produce their priority list for repaving. We then developed the initial street resurfacing package based on scheduled repairs and projects that need to be completed before we resurface certain streets. The initial package consists of five streets: King, Garland Ferry, Hamilton, Kyle and College. Bids will be opened on April 8th. Once we award the bid, we will move forward with the first-year resurfacing and begin developing years two to five.”
The improvements to US 72 are anticipated to go out to bid as soon as possible once the final engineering is completed. Once the 72 project is done, work should be able to begin on County Park Road. The guardrails project for the bridge on Snodgrass Road should also begin within the next few weeks.
The Mayor and City Engineer Josh Little have reviewed the city’s zoning ordinances in hopes of making the city more business-friendly. Little will be presenting the review to the Planning Commission, and after their approval, the review will then go to Council for their review and approval. The Mayor hopes, after Council approval, to meet with local contractors and builders to receive input on areas the city can improve on its building and inspection process.
The Mayor continued, “The city received a grant in 2019 to help fund removal of blighted and dilapidated structures. There were 25 originally identified and removed in February, with five additional locations added. Those five sites are currently being addressed. Once all are complete, we will follow up with adding dirt, to level the sites, and sow grass.”
The Mayor also addressed economic and retail development, outlining the two new industries, Carpenter Metal Solutions and CFD Research, that were added to Scottsboro’s industry in 2020. The city has also met with local realtors to address the current housing crisis. The mayor stated there are currently less than 50 homes listed for sale in this county. The Mayor also stated the most significant announcement being that of the White Development project, which will be anchored by Publix and will provide well over 100 new jobs. The project will also include at least two other national brand stores, and construction is expected to begin in the next three to four months.
“Based on a study conducted by Deloitte, a multi-national professional services network, there are an expected 25,000 jobs coming to the Huntsville area in the next three years. All of those new residents won’t live in Huntsville – they will want to be in a place with lots of natural beauty and space to enjoy their families. We intend to make a case for as many of those new residents to consider Scottsboro. To support that effort, we need additional housing, lots and retail growth to be successful.”
“One project that has not been significantly discussed is the Singing River Trail (SRT), a long- distance trail in North Alabama that connects communities across the state, provides active-living opportunities for residents and spurs further economic development for the region. What began as a 70-mile trail in North Central Alabama has now developed into a 170-mile trail that spans from Bridgeport to the Shoals. This is a quality of life issue that is very important to families who live here now and who are expected to relocate to North Alabama in the next three to five years. If we expect our children to want to return here, to keep our younger residents here and to attract many of the new residents to North Alabama, this is an effort we must participate and invest in.
Another reality of COVID has been the pursuit and enjoyment of outdoor activities. Being geographically positioned between Huntsville and Chattanooga, we will reap enormous economic benefits from this opportunity. This is truly a, “build it, and they will come.” We will be talking about this in the near future.”
The Mayor then delivered the closing by stating, “We know where we have been, we know where we are. We must determine where we want to be and how we are going to get there – effectively. I am proposing the development of a Master Plan for the city of Scottsboro that looks 10 to 20 years down the road. This plan will consider all elements of growth and what is needed to support that growth, as well as quality of life opportunities. This is not just to look toward economic growth and attracting new citizens; it is also critical to maintain the quality of life we enjoy with our families every day.
Earlier I mentioned the flooding from last week. Challenges like this can be identified and addressed early on with proper planning and coordination, so they are not devastating. Transportation needs can be identified and planned for. Zoning and building needs can be better determined. Recreational needs can be identified and pursued. As an example: We currently have a few nice walking trails in and around Caldwell Park., the Recreation Complex and Veterans Memorial Park. (If you haven’t experienced the beautiful Veterans Memorial Park, I suggest you visit first during the day and then after dark. It is a very moving and emotional experience both times, but particularly at night.) We also have walking trails at City Park, County Park and Goose Pond. We have no biking trails or lanes, but we do have an opportunity to better develop and connect all of these by leveraging our participation in the Singing River Trail. Planning such as this will help determine goals and objectives and give us a road map of how to get there. Reaching these goals will require communication, collaboration and a lot of cooperation both internally and externally.
This is an exciting time to live in the city of Scottsboro. We are incredibly positioned geographically, and I hope, progressively, to accomplish some great things. But, it is going to take all of us to do it. I will continue to work to make Scottsboro a great place to live, work and play.
Thank you for listening this morning. I expect to do this face-to-face with you next year. For now, please stay safe, get your vaccine as soon as you can, take care of one another and buy local every chance you have.”