The Tallapoosa River has presented challenges to county residents in the past.
“Which courthouse does this? Why do they have a “fill in the blank” on that side?” are all questions that have been asked before.
The Tallapoosa County Commission and Alexander City are trying to bridge the gap between the two sides of the river more and want to use tourism and Lake Martin to do it.
The last several weeks the two governmental bodies have been talking about combining efforts for tourism for which each has an entity. Tourism unification is likely close.
Alexander City Mayor Woody Baird was at Monday’s commission meeting to inform commissioners on the city’s efforts to join a combined tourism effort. Baird said he knows some are frustrated at the time it has taken but is hopeful the end is in sight.
“It will take us at least two more weeks with the next council meeting,” Baird said. “I just would ask y’all to hang with us and wait for us to get this done. I do believe and see Lake Martin as a county asset. It’s not an Alex City asset. If we work together and combine our assets we will have a much greater opportunity to take advantage of the growth that is coming.”
The county commission established Tallapoosa County Tourism with Sandra Fuller as its director in 2018. Alexander City established the Lake Martin Tourism Association. It’s most recent director Brandy Hastings resigned late last year.
Baird said the move started discussion about a combined tourism effort to help better unify all of Tallapoosa County for growth potential.
“Y’all know it on this side of the lake, the growth is coming,” Baird said. “We have been discovered and we are going to explode. I truthfully believe that if we combine our efforts, no matter how much time it takes, I think it will benefit all of us. I think we will all reap the benefits, the revenue that will be brought in from that.”
Commissioners are fine with waiting a little longer to see what Alexander City officials will do.
“We are comfortable with what we have in place,” Commissioner T.C. Coley said. “We are very open to the dialogue about combining tourism organizations.”
The delay is now fine with county officials once it was determined the combined tourism authority would not have to go before the state legislature. State officials already have statues in place to handle such an authority.
Both the commission and Alexander City officials believe a combined tourism effort is the tip of the iceberg on future cooperation.
“I’ve been there supporting you the whole time through this,” Commissioner John McKelvey said. “I think this is a great idea. I think it will lead to other combinations of us and the cities doing things in future.”
Baird said working with other entities in Tallapoosa County and beyond has been something he has wanted Alexander City to be a part of.
“I know we have always had that river that divides us in things going on,” Baird said. “I’m doing my best to breach that and bridge it and come together and do more things together. I think working together will do us good. The growth we will see around this lake is going to reap huge benefits for us all.”