For now, the entrance at Riley Road from Alabama 46 leads to the old logging roads that go through the property.
Thursday, as Heflin Mayor Rudy Rooks’ truck bounced slowly along the old roads, nearly getting stuck at one point, it became clear how important the work is to get buyers into the park.
A nicely graded and graveled road would make a much better impression, said Heflin Industrial Development Board member Steven Lines.
“We don’t have much money to spend,” Lines said. “We’re trying to get the biggest bang for our buck.”
The board, which is spearheading the effort to develop the 212-acre industrial park, received $25,000 from the Cleburne County Commission to improve infrastructure at the park.
The board members decided to have the existing roads graded and graveled. They also plan to have the rights of way, about 20 feet on either side of the road, smoothed, seeded with grass and fertilized, said board Chairman Wendell Wood. The work will total about 1 mile of road, Wood said.
Once a business is committed to the property, the city can apply for grants through the Alabama Department of Transportation to build a road to accommodate it, Rooks said. Wood said they hope to build the permanent road into the park farther down Alabama 46. The board hopes to add onto a road going through the city’s improvement district near Interstate 20 at exit 205, where Smith Farms and an Alabama Beverage Commission liquor store stand, Wood said.
But first, the city has to be able to show the property, Rooks said.
A donor who wished to remain anonymous volunteered to grade the old logging roads, Wood said. That project should be finished by mid-October, weather permitting, he added.
The board already advertised for bids for the right-of-way project and will open those bids at Heflin City Hall today (Thursday), Wood said. He hopes that work can start as soon as the grading is finished, Wood said.
The cost of the right-of-way work will determine how much gravel the board will be able to put on the newly graded roads, he said. The board is hoping to lay down 2 inches of gravel, Wood added.
Rooks said the city hasn’t budgeted any money for the park other than making bond payments on the purchase and providing equipment and labor for maintenance.
But the city hopes a business will want to settle in the park to help make the investments pay off. There already has been interest in the property, Rooks added.
“We’ve had some real good interest on the retail side,” Rooks said. “But we’re more interested in pursuing the industrial side of it to create more jobs.”
The city’s improvement district and the area near exit 199 are more geared to retail, Rooks said. The improvement district is being developed by its owner, David Hewitt.
The development in the improvement district doesn’t immediately add to the city’s tax base. That money goes back to Hewitt to pay off his development costs, Rooks said.
Once the work is done on the old logging roads, the city will place a gate at the entrance to protect the roads, said Shane Smith, Heflin’s city clerk. There’s been a gate there for years, but it needs to be repaired, Rooks said.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.