Despite the uncertainty created by COVID-19, the future of Alexander City appears to be improving. There are signs of growth and development suggesting a positive impact on our local economy.
Downtown merchants frequently hear visitors say, “This is a lovely little town.” People love small towns; they are authentic with unique stories to tell. Small towns offer so much and now that many of us have experienced “remote working” firsthand, communities like ours — especially ours — are even more desirable. In addition to remote working, rural economic developers see entrepreneurs and small businesses as economic engines.
Even before the pandemic, society was on the edge of change. As a community, we can make this work for Alexander City. The knight on a white horse is not coming; it’s up to us to put our community on the map. Everybody wins if we are willing to put in the effort to make a difference, to imprint the future and structure our journey as an extension of the past — not to live in the past but to build on it.
A great deal has been said recently about improving the quality of life for our community and attracting new residents, businesses and industries. Historic preservation centered on our downtown historic district has been confirmed as being in our best interest. The City of Alexander City has requested proposals for high-quality redevelopment of the old courthouse that now houses the police department. Creative proposals producing significant economic activity are encouraged.
What a fantastic opportunity for our community to come together and not only save a building on the National Historic Register but also repurpose this asset to our advantage. Hank Williams once spent some time in our jail and from a tourism point of view it is a great tie-in to Lake Martin, Kowaliga and the Hank Williams Trail, which stretches from Georgiana to Birmingham and beyond. Other ideas include textile or sports museums or a STEM-focused children’s museum building on science, technology, engineering and math. Add art and the concept becomes STEAM also highly regarded by educators. Unlike loft apartments or more green space we should consider solutions that can be utilized by the entire community on a daily basis. We need an exciting and accessible venue that will tell our story.
A new normal is underway; for Alexander City to flourish we have to get ahead of the curve by initiating the changes that will best serve our community. We need to step up to the challenges rather than continue waiting for someone else to help us. Comments or questions regarding courthouse preservation can be sent to email@example.com.