Florala lake project expands

Published 11:18 pm Thursday, September 25, 2008

It has taken a great deal of community support to bring the idea of a amphitheater at Florala’s Lake Jackson, and thanks to even more community support, the project will soon be on its way to fruition.

In its early stages, more than 500 residents sent letters to Montgomery pledging their support of the renovation project which will construct a new community multipurpose building and amphitheater at Florala State Park. Recently, the commitment level was taken one step further after two local businessmen and the Covington County Commission agreed to step in and provide additional services at no cost to the project.

“The first step of the project is going to be the demolition of the existing buildings,” William H. “Billy” McDaniel, project chairman, said. “Now that doesn’t include the Ladies Club House. I don’t know what’s going to happen to it. It does include the bathrooms, the meetinghouse and the park ranger’s house.

“The amazing thing about this project is that there’s a lot to be done with a very limited amount of money,” he said. “Ron Hargrove of B&H Contracting, Charles Smith of Smith Development and the commission have agreed to do the demolition, remove the debris and prepare the ground for construction.

“That is a big contribution to this project,” he said. “Those services could have eaten up a large portion of our budget. Now we can concentrate on the buildings.”

Plans for the project include an 11,000 sq. ft. building with a moveable stage, convertible meeting rooms that seat 350 and a kitchen area. McDaniel said residents could see movement at the project site as early as April 2009.

“There are so many interesting facets of this project,” McDaniel said. “Somehow the stage is moveable where it slides up under the seating arrangement and can be extended out towards the lake and becomes a lighted stage. I can’t explain it, but it’s going to be great.”

McDaniel said preliminary plans also include four pavilions and additional restroom facilities on the grounds; however, he hopes more amenities will be added along the way.

“Really, we’re limited by our budget,” he said. “It’s going to determine exactly what is constructed. I hope to be able to get more (money) as we go along. We’re going to do what it takes to make this a top notch facility.”

Last week, the State Parks Joint Legislative Committee approved $1 million that will allow for the construction of a new multi-purpose community building, amphitheatre, additional parking and other renovations at Florala State Park. An additional $1 million in labor and equipment has been committed by the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command’s Innovative Readiness Training program.

“This is a wonderful project for Florala,” he said. “It has had the total support of House Speaker Seth Hammett and state Sen. Jimmy Holley. Both of them realize what this project will add not only to the city of Florala but also the state of Alabama.”