Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Editor's Note: A short break from the news

Your intrepid editor had a couple of major projects in real life, and also had made a pledge not to comment on the school system news, so there was little to report in the last couple of weeks. I am on a trip to Italy with my mother until Nov. 15, but when I return, these are the stories you'll be able to read at the News from Hoover:

Cable television competition comes to Hoover. AT&T is negotiating with several cities, including Hoover, to offer cable TV. The City Council has authorized the Mayor to negotiate a franchise agreement. Competition is good.

Tourism and visitors add lots of dollars to Hoover's bottom line. Since we are so dependent on sales tax, it benefits the city for people to visit, buy things and pay sales tax. But did you know that tourists are only a small part of the picture. Sporting event attendees and business meetings bring a great deal of revenue to the city.

Hoover's curbside recycling service helps our residents participate in environmental action. I will follow the path of the recyclables to let you know what happens to them.

If you would like, check out my travel blog about my Italy trip.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Patton Chapel Road project is now more neighborhood-friendly

The city of Hoover has been working since at least 1999 on a road plan for Patton Chapel Rd., Chapel Rd. and the Chapel Lane extension to the Galleria. A controversial plan was shelved in 2003 that would have three-laned the road from Highway 31 to Chapel Lane (near Simmons Middle School) and added sidewalks. Now, a plan is in place that deals with traffic without damaging the residential areas on Patton Chapel.

Over the weekend, many residents received a notice from ALDOT for a meeting on Oct. 25 (details below). This meeting will display plans for the first part of the Patton Chapel project, which will add a lane from Highway 31 to Crayrich Dr. and straighten out the curve. Jefferson County is handling that part of the project, said Hoover City Engineer Rod Long.

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The rest of the project, which is being handled by the city of Hoover, is still in its preliminary stages. Long said that plans are to continue the three lane (two traffic lanes plus a turn lane) to Tammassee Ln., which is just past Green Valley Baptist Church.

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The road will taper back down to two lanes until it gets to Cornwall Rd. just before the creek. It will go back to three lanes for the short section to Chapel Lane/Preserve Parkway. A pedestrian walkway is planned for the bridge.

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Long said that the city met with residents about their objections to the original plans. Now that the road will remain two-lane and sidewalk-less through the main residential areas, the project is proceeding. “We are looking at replacing the valley gutters with curb and gutter when we do the project,” Long said. “Over the years, resurfacing has taken over the gutters, and this would be a good time to replace them.”

The last part of the project is the Chapel Lane extension, which will go to the Patton Creek Shopping Center near the Riverchase Galleria. The road design is complete, Long said, but there are still engineering issues with tying in the planned 1,000-foot bridge with the existing road.

“Chapel Lane will have a pedestrian pathway on the entire section,” Long said. “It will be six feet wide and separate from traffic.”

The projects are being paid for with 80 percent federal funds, which have already been obtained, and 20 percent city funds, which have been carried over from previous capital budgets. There is not a timetable yet for construction.

The Public Involvement Meeting, for the project from Highway 31 to Crayrich Dr., is Oct. 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Green Valley Baptist Church. This is not a public hearing but rather there is a display of maps and other information for the public to look over. Someone from ALDOT and from the county will be there to answer questions. You can pick up an information packet as well. The state takes written comments for ten days after the meeting.

Editor's Note: This meeing is your best way to get information and ask questions. Many people don’t go to these meetings, and so they don’t have all the facts and have to depend on neighbors or the newspaper, which might not have all the details you want. If you live on this street or drive on it, you should stop by for a few minutes on the 25th so you can see for yourself.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bluff Park businesses ride to the rescue, fill in BBQ gap at art show

“Where’s the barbecue?” It was the question on many people's minds at the Bluff Park Art Show last Saturday. The answer is a story of a challenge and a community that made sure the show went on.

About a week before the Oct. 6 show, the Bluff Park Art Association got a call. The civic group that had provided the barbecue for many years was not going to be able to do it. “We were disappointed, because it has been part of our tradition,” said Jackie Dye, co-chair of the Association. “Even more, it was the majority of our food sales.”

Inspiration struck in the form of a “Shop Bluff Park First” decal in the window of a store. “We turned to the local businesses,” Ms. Dye said. On Thursday before the show, at almost literally the last minute, they went to Baker’s Famous Pizza in Shades Mountain Plaza and asked for help. “They volunteered to have a booth, and then recommended the new catering store next door. Everyone pulled together,” she said.

Laura, one of the staff at Baker’s, said they had already scheduled extra people because of the Alabama game. “We were up and down the street to the park all day, but we were happy to do it,” she said. "There were a lot of locals who didn't know about our pizza, so it was a great opportunity for us as well."

The next stop was Ashley Mac’s, a new catering and “dinners to go” business owned by Ashley and Andy McMakin. “We put together box lunches with chicken salad or pimiento cheese, Greek pasta salad, brownies and chips,” Ashley McMakin said. “We produced for 14 hours on Friday and all day Saturday, and we sold everything we had.” She added that the work paid off not only in helping the community, but also in business. “We’ve already booked three engagements, and we have had a lot of people come into the store.”

When Ms. Dye took a group of volunteers to lunch Thursday at the Bluff Park Diner on Shades Crest Rd., she caught owner Bob Hoeferlin behind the register. “I told him we really had a crisis,” she said. There was no way to do barbecue by that point, but Hoeferlin offered to provide hamburgers and hot dogs from the Tip Top Grill. “It’s one of our busiest days at the Grill anyway,” he said, and they started cooking at midnight. “We had to keep it simple, just the basic sandwich and packets of accompaniments and we couldn’t cook to order. But we were happy to help the show and it worked out well for everyone.”

Ms. Dye said Bluff Park Baptist Church also assisted, with chicken wrap sandwiches and popcorn for sale. There were also numerous volunteers who staffed the food vendors.

“The Bluff Park Art Association is a strong organization,” Ms. Dye said. “We overcame the challenge and it worked out great.” She said they would be starting in the spring next year to organize food for next year’s art show.