Short takes on civic subjects

Oneonta update...

The following are concise answers to several questions posed by readers recently and by The Blount Countian itself on continuing developments in Oneonta. City manager Ed Lowe provided impromptu answers last week.

Oneonta Public Library

What will happen to the Oneonta Public Library after it is demolished to make way for the Wallace State campus center, set for construction on the library site?

“We’re looking at a couple of options for a temporary location for the library until the new building is built,” Lowe said. He said discussions have not progressed to the point of identifying which option will be chosen, but work toward a conclusion continues. The library will be moved back into a larger twostory space inside the Wallace State campus center building when it is completed, he said.

Downtown renovation

Lowe said that the Wallace State campus project has triggered a process of “taking another look” at renovation or further development in downtown Oneonta. He said it’s perhaps too soon for specific projects to be initiated, but some may be in the early stages of being considered. He added that the city’s action relaxing zoning regulations for mixed use such as residential arrangements in the downtown area may further fuel rethinking processes. Impact of Wallace State project

Lowe reported that the city has asked Alabama Power’s economic development unit to conduct an economic impact study documenting the likely economic affect of the Wallace State campus center and its related multipurpose aspects on Oneonta and the immediate area. Results are expected by the end of the year.

ACE assessment and recommendations

The Blount Countian reported last week on Oneonta’s entry into the assessment phase of the Alabama Communities of Excellence (ACE) program. In a survey of citizen opinions on a number of variables such as community leadership, municipal performance, civic life, and other factors, three variables were found to be significantly lower than desired, according to The Blount Countian’s analysis. They were: (1) inadequacy of retail shopping opportunities, (2) limited attractiveness/ vibrancy of the downtown area, and (3) inadequate access to high-speed Internet service. Other low-scoring items included inadequate conflict resolution processes, poor communication across racial/ethnic lines, and limited efforts to involve young people in civic life.

The ACE process requires that each community address problems identified in the assessment of strengths and weaknesses before moving to the next implementation phase.

So what will be done to improve those areas identified as lacking? The Blount Countian wanted to know. Lowe said the ACE team would evaluate all the survey findings in detail and prepare a report containing findings and recommendations on areas to be addressed for improvement.

Will they help local leaders “fix” the problems identified? Not directly, according to Lowe. Their guidance would involve providing resources needed to affect improvement, along with names of and contact information for people in other ACE communities who have dealt with similar problems and can provide suggestions for solving them. It would be up to local team members working together to implement action toward improvement in their own areas of expertise.

New restaurant

Plans have been approved by a southeastern chain’s headquarters for construction of a new restaurant on the vacant lot between the Family Services Mall and Ala 75 north, Lowe said. An official announcement will be made soon by restaurant management, according to Economic Development Council director Don Mitchell, who is heading up arrangements with the firm.