Alabama A&M Students Help Albertville With Long-Term Planning

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ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Alabama A&M University graduate researchers say Albertville is a city that is poised to grow.  Students in Russell Fricano’s community and regional planning class were assigned the Marshall County town for a research project.

They presented their findings to dozens of involved citizens at a community meeting this afternoon.  The students looked at planning issues like economic development and public services, to help provide city leaders with data and recommendations for future growth.

The city council intends to use the info to create a list of goal-oriented policies.

“The key element from this is a document that we do actually use as a part of the marketing strategy,” Albertville City Council member Ben McGowan said.

“It’s not just the city portion of it, but it’s folding in our school board.  It’s folding in our utilities people.  Our airport board.  They have five and 10 year plans,” McGowan said.

“We as a city don’t have a plan at this moment, but we will have one in the near future.”

Nine students presented residents who attended the meting with information ranging from Albertville’s early history, to household income, to parks and recreation.

“We feel that Albertville is very livable,” professor Fricano said.

“It generally has a lower rate of crime, excellent educational facilities, and they already have an industry that’s established, a number of things that some other communities don’t have.  I think it’s a city that’s really poised to grow,” he said.

The evaluation is part of an ongoing class assignment, and will help the city’s new mayor and council members–all of whom first won election in 2012–target goals for growth.

“It’s a wonderful help. We have a very unified leadership body in the city,” McGowan said.

“We’re proud of it and we fell like the citizens are starting to realize that and want to be more involved,” he said about the community involvement meeting. “This is the lead to a plan that we feel is necessary to move this city forward. That is a plan not only of the city leadership developing, but the citizens helping to be part of this development.”

McGowan said this type of analysis usually comes at a cost to a city, but the students did it for free. The councilman said it helps the students as they pursue master’s degrees.

One of the students is Enrico Hunter, who is the director of facility services at Alabama A&M. He wants to move back into the development project management field.

Hunter’s research focused on education and economic development.

“It was just good to kind of see the different economic factors that play into the lives of the people in the community,” Hunter said.  He also praised the Albertville school system.

“I was very pleased to see the cohesiveness in the education system here in alabama, starting with the school board and their mission statements, and how that played a role in the direction of the individual schools.”

He said the project gave him “a better understanding of the planning process and the type of collaboration that is necessary, gaining information from the citizens of the community as well as various individuals on the different boards and committees within the city.”

Citizens also filled out questionnaires to share wants and priorities for the city’s future.

The Urban and Regional Planning students will use the survey responses to create a final plan, which they will present to the Albertville City Council next month.

“We were really just amazed at the enthusiasm this community has shown for the planning process all the way throughout,” professor Fricano said.

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