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Priority V: Walking Trails

Estimates detailed for rec improvements

By Michael Butler

There are five recreational projects on the drawing board for Tallassee based on recent quality of life surveys conducted by the Elmore County Economic Development Authority (ECEDA). A big portion of the funding would come from a county lodging tax.

Lisa Van Wagner of ECEDA said that the development of these facilities in Tallassee and other cities in the county will be "the catalyst to create the economic engine for the tax revenue (and) tourism."

The dollar amount set aside by the Elmore County Commission for Tallassee is $10 million. Based on estimates, the five Tallassee projects would cost $16.5 million.

The City of Tallassee and Tallassee City Schools are working in conjunction on properties highlighted for improvements.

Priority I would be adding multipurpose turf to the playing and practice fields at J. E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium for an estimated cost of $2.5 million. The timeline for that project is 12-18 months.

"The last time we got a cost estimate on turfing the field was about six years ago," said Tallassee City Schools Superintendent Dr. Brock Nolin. "That was about $750,000. That was just for the field itself."

A quick timeline to avoid missing as little game time as possible is obviously preferred. O'Brien Stadium is the host for all levels of football in the fall but also soccer in the spring.

"We talked about getting the practice portion done first," said Nolin. "It really depends on how fast they sell these bonds and have access to the money. We have a draft agreement between the Board of Education and the Elmore County Commission. We have to execute that. Those things take time."

Close-Up View of Priorities I, II and III

Priority II is the reconstruction of the Tallassee Community/Recreation Center. Plans show a 36,000 square-foot facility on the footprint of the current rec center and city shop with expanded parking for traffic to the center and stadium next door.

The new rec center's price tag is $10 million. Tallassee Mayor Sarah Hill spoke on the financing aspect from the city's point of view.

"We are not yet sure what necessary additional dollars will be needed," she noted. "We are hoping to start seeing some drawings in the next few months and will look at additional funding options once we have more concrete plans."

Priority III is a splash pad on the same rec center property for approximately $1 million.

Priority IV is to create a competition track at the current elementary school track and playground on Friendship Road. The cost estimate is $2 million.

Priority V is walking trails behind the Tallassee Recreation Center for $1 million.

"We need all of it," said Tallassee Recreation Director Eric Phillips on the proposed improvements including the walking trail addition. "People can get the exercise they need and get with nature. It centers people."

The estimated time frame for the rec center is 24-36 months. In the meantime, Phillips has already begun upgrading fitness equipment.

"The weights were the same that I started working out with in the 1980s. I'm dating myself," he quipped. "The new equipment is not brand new but new to us. Each machine counts your reps and (adjusts) in 2.5-pound increments."

The center has expanded its hours as well; 6 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. - 12 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. on Sundays.