By Ally Morrison
From wrapping up work on sidewalks to narrowing in on plans to build a full performing arts center, there are many projects and plans on the books this year in Mountain Brook and Hoover. City officials with both areas speak on their plans for the year.
Mountain Brook City Manager Sam Gaston, who has been in that position for 29 years, said the city has started several improvements that will be continued into next year, such as finishing the Hagood Sidewalk Project in January.
“We’re finishing up a lot of athletic improvements, and hopefully in about two months we will have a totally new athletic complex at Mountain Brook High School,” Gaston said. “The complex was built in the late ‘80s and over time has gotten outdated. It will be a total makeover for our very active sports programs.”
The plans for the complex include new restrooms, a new concession stand, playground equipment, security cameras and walkways.
Additionally, Gaston has a goal for redeveloping the Brookwood Village Mall property along with the city of Homewood, which will most likely take place in the next year.
“We are working very closely with the city of Homewood, talking as one unit and one voice to ensure the new development is conducive to both of our cities.” Gaston said.
Gaston said three bridges in the Mountain Brook area also will be restored. The Caldwell Mill Road bridge and the Old Brook Trail bridge will be replaced, and the Canterbury Road bridge will be rehabilitated.
Gaston attributes every accomplishment he has had in his years with the city to the team he has been able to build.
“We’ve built a wonderful staff here in the city of Mountain Brook.” Gaston said. “When you hire good people and take care of your people, they will take care of your customers. It’s all about the team, and we have a great team.”
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato was elected in 2016 after having previously served with the Hoover Fire Department.
“I served with the fire department for 42 years, and every day of my career was different. Not much changed when I became mayor,” Brocato said. “My most notable achievement has been the impact we have made on people’s lives, serving the people of Hoover.”
Brocato’s plans for the new year include the development of a state-of-the-art performing arts center. The goal for the development is to showcase Broadway shows and musical and entertainment acts.
“We do very well with our sports and recreation; however, I see a need for this performing arts center to address the aspect of art. We need a place for our children to perform.” Brocato said.
In addition to the construction of a new performing arts center, the city of Hoover is working hard with owners of the Galleria on plans for redevelopment of the mall.
“We do know that, as shopping patterns change, the Galleria will one day look like a mixed-use type of campus,” Brocato said.
In the past year, the city of Hoover opened a new training center for the Hoover Police Department.
“Police are being scrutinized all around the country, but we’ve had the opportunity to open this facility. It’s important for how they police in our community,” Brocato said.
The city also is continuing to work on making the city more walkable. The installation of many sidewalks and trails will allow residents to walk to coffee shops, retail areas and restaurants.
As 2021 comes to a close, Mountain Brook and Hoover officials say they will continue actively working to improve each community by prioritizing the needs of their citizens.