Athens neighbors weigh in on plans for old Pilgrim’s Pride site

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ATHENS, Ala.- The old Pilgrim's Pride chicken plant has been torn down and it may soon be a park. City leaders want to hear from neighbors about what should be built on Pryor Street.

After years of negotiations, phone calls and heavy lifting, the old Pilgrim's Pride chicken plant in Athens is gone.

"It's environmentally clean, all the ADEM tests have been run," Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks said.

The question now is what to do with the site. City leaders have hired Farmer Morgan to help design a mixed-use park.

"Do we want a dog park? Do we want a splash pad? Do we want some retail investment?" Marks said.

"One option is a public, private partnership. And potentially some mixed retail and residential," Farmer Morgan managing partner Ben Farmer said.

This week, neighbors are invited to share their ideas for the property.

"So, we're very much in that civic engagement side," Farmer said.

Right now, the old chicken plant is in the idea phase. Ben Farmer says they plan to take all of the ideas shared from neighbors and use them in their final design plan, which will take them a few months to draw up. Then it'll come back to the city to pick which plan makes the most sense out here and how much they're prepared to pay to make it happen.

"Between now and the next three or four months, they come back to us with a plan," Marks said. "And then we start putting money to accomplish that."

Farmer Morgan has until March of 2020 to finish its final design. Mayor marks says so far, it's unclear how much the city is prepared to spend the build the future park.

Athens neighbors are invited to share their ideas for the next two days at city hall. On Thursday evening, Farmer Morgan will present its report.

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