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City to host visioning workshop

By Michael Butler

The City of Tallassee is opening its doors to the public to hear ideas for the future of riverfront property. A visioning session will be held at Tallassee City Hall on Monday, May 24 from 6-8 p.m.

The event will be sponsored by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management Brownfield Grant Program, Auburn University and the City of Tallassee. It will focus specifically on the now city-owned east side mill property - the location where a 2016 fire destroyed the former textile mill.

"A Brownfield Cleanup Grant can go up to $4 million," Tallassee mayor Johnny Hammock said. "We've done the Phase 1 assessment through ADEM. That took a while. We just wrapped up a Phase 2 assessment."

The preliminary assessments have included soil samples on the property. The Phase 2 results are expected prior to the May 24 meeting.

The mill before the 2016 fire and after

"We want everybody's input," Hammock said of the workshop. "We're going to try to articulate a grant to help us get some relief. This is right beside our natural resource, the Tallapoosa River, and right beside our water filter plant. There's probably about 20,000 people that drink water from that filter plant and river."

Hammock would like to upgrade the filter plant which has been in operation since 1920.

Vintage photo at the city's water filter plant

"I think a lot of our filters and pipe galleries have outlived its life cycle and needs updating. This is a perfect time with the first five of the 26 acres to put a water filter plant. That still leaves us 21 acres. We feel this is the city's land. Whether it be a riverwalk, some kind of park, retail, museum, whatever - we want the citizens' input."

The City of Tallassee posed a question on its Facebook page asking citizens to post wish list items they would like to see come to fruition. The responses included; a bowling alley, skating rink, trampoline park, new recreation center, more downtown shops, and a new luxury hotel.

Angela Thornell wrote, "Use the river as a resource. Build around it." The meeting on Monday will dive into the topic on how to do just that.

"Here you have a piece of property that is going to be a blank canvas," said Griffin Pritchard, the city's public information officer. "There's no such thing as a bad idea. We want to hear them all."

Vintage photograph of the Army-Navy "E" Award Ceremony on April 7, 1943
Courtesy of Bill Goss, "Images of America - Tallassee"