By Emily Williams
July is a critical month for Vestavia Hills as the city begins seeing major progress on its $58 million Community Spaces Plan.
“The Community Spaces Plan is moving from the planning stage to the reality stage,” said city manager Jeff Downes.
Downes gave an updated presentation of the plan’s progress at a City Council meeting June 24.
A major milestone has been reached in the Wald Park project, with grating to level a portion of the park complete. The next phase of construction is out for bids with the anticipation that a notice to proceed will be obtained by Aug. 1.
“In those contracts, there are several key substantial completion dates,” Downes said. “There is an improvement to Waldridge Road, which is part of the project that must be done before the private businesses open up.” Those businesses include a Baumhowers and a Dunkin’ Donuts.
With that in mind, Downes relayed estimated completion dates for the park’s substantial projects.
A turn lane into the park on Waldridge Road is set to be completed by Oct. 1.
The baseball complex is expected to be finished by March 1 and will include converting one of the larger existing baseball fields into a Miracle Field.
Downes noted that he has experienced firsthand the challenges of finding suitable recreation space in the city for his child with special needs. The field will be the first parks and recreation space in the city designed specifically to accommodate the needs of children with special needs.
Another big project onsite will be constructing the new pool facility, to be completed by May 25.
Downes noted that there will be a leisure pool with a zero-entry section, which will serve smaller children. The larger pool will be 100 meters and, Downes assured, will be able to accommodate a competitive swim league.
Downs said he hopes the remainder of the work at Wald Park will be completed 455 days following the Notice to Proceed.
Among Downes’ updates on ongoing city projects, there was one significant roadblock to note.
“One of the biggest issues we don’t have complete firm dates on is Crosshaven (Drive),” Downes said.
To proceed with the utility work necessary to relocate power and water lines so the drive can be widened, the city has been obtaining verbal agreements from property owners for temporary construction easements. Downes said the city has obtained verbal agreements from property owners for 29 of the 30 properties on which rights of way are needed. The only property owner who hasn’t agreed has been the owner of the Pita Stop.
“The owner of Pita Stop does not feel like he is getting any benefit from this widening and refuses to deal with us, so we are having to take him to court,” Downes said.
The city is coordinating the road work with Jefferson County, which still owns Crosshaven Drive where it intersects with Green Valley Road.
“They are as active on this project as I’ve ever seen them,” Downes said. “They feel like they can work with us in good sync to make this project a reality and move it along as fast as possible.”
Taking into account the time it will take to reach a probate court ruling, Downes said the city expects to obtain a Notice to Proceed by Jan. 15. The construction is expected to take 255 days to complete.
“The Community Spaces Plan is becoming a reality and we are either moving toward construction or moving toward the completion of design on almost all of these projects,” Downes said.