LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – It’s a project which received mixed reviews by local leaders in the Shoals when introduced. Despite some opposition, an agriculture center in Lauderdale County is moving forward.
State Senator Tim Melson and Representative Lynn Greer championed legislation to make the ag center possible. Now it appears a large parcel of land along eastern Florence Boulevard will be its new home.
“We’ve been fortunate to have an owner who is willing to work with us,” explained Senator Melson. “He is willing to sell it at appraised value. So we are very fortunate that we found a good piece of property near town and is going to be a great site to build on.”
According to Melson, the property along Florence Boulevard has been appraised and studied; adding an ecological study has been completed saying there are no hazards to worry about.
Right now the board tasked with overseeing the project is doing their homework.
“We have talked to different architect firms from Atlanta to Chattanooga to Nashville, some in Kansas City. So we are shopping and making sure we have the right plan for the right facility on the right property,” Melson explained.
The estimated cost of the project sits at $40-million. Funds from a two-cent gas tax already in place and TVA-in-leui-of-tax money will help pay the note.
“We’ve got to work through the bond market versus the USDA. We’ve got to look at the advantages and disadvantages of both,” said Melson. “But we are hoping, I would love to see the ground broken in 3-6 months and I would love to see part of the facility open within 2-years.”
Senator Melson said it’s not going to be just an arena sitting on the property. It will be user-friendly and have something for all ages and walks of life.
The site for the agriculture center in Lauderdale County will also be the new home of a workforce development center operated by Northwest Shoals Community College.