Athens looks forward to growth at State of the City address

ATHENS, Ala. - Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks highlighted growth during his presentation of the State of the City address on Thursday.

Mayor Marks says growth like this is the city's greatest challenge and could be its greatest success.

"How do we pull the growth together, how do we plan for it? And the opportunities we have are just mind-boggling," said Marks.

Athens City Schools just opened their new high school and the city has plans for a new recreation center.

"We hope to be in it by summer or early fall of 2020. We're in an old recreation facility in Athens right now that was built in the 1980s so the opportunity we have right now to build a new 16 million dollar facility is exciting," said Marks.

Athens also has plans for the 32 acres of the old Pilgrim's Pride chicken plant. Mayor Marks says there are opportunities to have "a mixed-use development, maybe an outside restaurant, maybe some high-end loft apartments."

The mayor says while growth and economic development are both great things happening within the city, the focus of the city is also improving infrastructure.

"There are quite a few important infrastructure issues in not only roadways but how do we build infrastructure for water, sewer, gas. So it's a challenge but it's a great opportunity," says Marks.

Mayor says Athens has streamlined government operations to improve the financial well-being of the city.

"We've grown our reserve and revenue stream whereas when we look at on the General Fund side had about 15 percent in reserve," says Marks.

The mayor says the growth in reserve fund will give the city the ability to address infrastructure needs.

During his address, Mayor Marks said that he can't say what yet, but Athens will soon be announcing new retail and industrial projects.

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