Cabins, bike trail among newly approved additions and improvements at Jackson County Park

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. -- After a vote by the Jackson County Commission, additions and improvements to Jackson County Park will soon be a reality.

After months of discussion, the upgrades and additions to Jackson County Park are approved. Monday night, the County Commission approved bids for the project. "The cabins, the playground, the front office, and a portion of the bike trail," explains Commission Chair Matthew Hodges.

That's phase one, and what could be deemed as the most important step. Because of it, Jackson County taxpayers aren't paying a dime for this project. "We're building the cabins, and the cabins are what we anticipate to fund the rest of the project," Hodges says, "It's not coming from general fund dollars, it's coming strictly from the new profits that we'll be making out there and any other profits that may come in from the park as increase profits, as a result of increased traffic and things like that."

The idea is for the park to pay for this process itself.

The county is looking at finance options -- a potential loan for the first phase. Once the first phase is complete and thriving, the second phase will start. Hodges says the Commission feels confident the idea behind the funding will be successful. "Even based on a conservative rental rate on [the cabins] we think that will pay for it, so hopefully like I said, it will exceed our expectations but we wanted to be conservative in our estimates."

The expectation is the loan for the initial phase will be paid off in 15 years using those revenues garnered from the park.

The county plans to build nine cabins in addition to the other improvements and additions. Those include a playground, boating improvements, and trails.

Once the first phase is done and money is coming in, the next phase will start.

Visitors shouldn't experience much of an impact while construction is going on. "We shouldn't look at any long closures," Hodges says, "We may see something like a day or so, but nothing substantial."

The park will remain free for guests to enjoy, but some amenities will have a fee attached.

Construction is expected to start in several weeks. The first phase is anticipated to be complete by the end of summer or the fall.