Work under way on lake project

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 10, 2010

Construction is now under way at Florala’s Rodney J. Evans Conference Center – the building formerly known as the lake building.

Robert Foster, project manager and construction superintendent with the state’s department of conservation and natural resources, said Friday a crew of about 10 people are working on all aspects of the Florala State Park project. Work is expected to be completed in eight-to-10 weeks, he said.

“We’re going to be here until it is finished,” Foster said. “We’ve got people working on the inside doing window trims, seating the plumbing. We’ve got people on the outside pouring concrete and working on the amphitheater.”

The building will house convertible meeting rooms that seat up to 350 and a kitchen area.

The amphitheater, which is located behind the building, will face the waters of Lake Jackson.

“The stage is going to be at the bottom of the steps,” Foster said. “It’ll be wired with power, but there won’t be a top. Once it’s all said and done, this is going to be a very nice facility.

“We want things to look great once we’re finished, so we’re taking our time,” he said. “Once we leave, it will be finished.”

Construction on 10,400-square-foot community center began in 2008 after a $1 million appropriation by the State Parks Joint Legislative Committee. An additional $1 million in labor and equipment cost was obtained through the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s Innovative Readiness Team (IRT) program.

By November 2009, the Alabama Department of Conservation said the community center and amphitheater project was more than $50,000 over budget and only 75 percent complete and construction ceased in June 2009.

In April 2010, it was announced funding had been secured to cover the estimated $200,000 in construction costs, and the state department of transportation has pledged to pave the parking lot.

Mayor Robert Williamson said Friday a press conference is scheduled for Tuesday to unveil an “important announcement” concerning the project. Those scheduled to attend include Speaker of the House Seth Hammett, Sen. Jimmy Holley, state parks director Mark Easterwood and other state officials.

Officials study plans inside Florala’s Rodney J. Evans Conference Center. | Jason Killingsworth/Star-News