Florala lake project funded

Published 8:03 pm Thursday, September 18, 2008

Florala will have its lake project, and residents could see work beginning by April 2009.

On Thursday, the State Parks Joint Legislative Committee approved $1 million to enable the City of Florala to partner with the state and the U.S. military to construct a new multi-purpose community building, amphitheatre, and additional parking, and to make other renovations at Florala State Park.

House Speaker Seth Hammett and state Sen. Jimmy Holley announced the committee’s decision Thursday afternoon following a strong recommendation by state Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley.

Florala leaders enlisted the support of the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command’s Innovative Readiness Training program to provide the equivalent of nearly $1 million in labor and equipment to construct the community building.

“The park at Lake Jackson is a treasure for the citizens of Florala and all Alabamians who discover the beautiful lake and state park on the Alabama-Florida border,” Hammett said. “I commend Florala’s leaders for seeking an innovative partnership to improve the park with a minimal use of state funds. I believe this could be a model for many other small park projects.”

Holley called the project a “win-win” scenario.

“Everyone benefits in this unique partnership,” Holley said. “Florala residents will have an upgraded park offering facilities for receptions and reunions in the new community building; the military reservists gain practical experience in construction; and state taxpayers get a bargain on a lovely park they all can enjoy.”

Lawley said he believes the local involvement in this project will enhance local support for using the park’s facilities.

Originally proposed as a $3 million project, Thursday’s announcement marks the culmination of more than two years of work to secure the project.

Mayor Danny Franklin said the city is ecstatic about the announcement, and thanked everyone involved in the project.

“This will help the city of Florala capitalize on the lake and it’s a benefit for the entire city, county and state,” he said. “We’ve been looking forward to all the improvements. It’s been a long task, but we’ve kept the faith.

“This is the most exciting moment in my administration. It’s going to be such a tremendous impact on the city.”

Construction is expected to begin as early as April 2009.