Commission OKs project to plan water, sewer construction at Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site

·4 min read

Etowah County Commissioners on Tuesday authorized an agreement with Goodwyn Mills, Cawood, LLC for an engineering services project and consultation at the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site. The project according to a news release is for “plans and specifications for construction of (water) and (sewer) utilities” for the site.

“Everyone is aware of what we have at the mega-site,” said Commission President Johnny Grant, “We’re on the right track but there’s a process we have to get through to get it done.”

Grant, who said previously his main goal for his presidency was the advancement of the site, told commissioners to "remain focused on the continued development of Little Canoe Creek so the site will be ready for new industry."

"I feel like we are really close to something big happening at our site and we need to be ready," he said.

Commissioners say they are "doing just that" with this project with GMC. The project's contract will be separated into four different phases. Most notably, it will include an elevated water tank adjacent to Interstate 59. It also includes industrial park lift stations and waterlines, a utility crossing under Interstate 59, sanitary and sewer hose main, water line and associated pumping stations.

"At a little over ($2 million), the design contract is the next step toward eliminating any barriers to development of the site," they said in the news release officially announcing the project. "With the (county's) action today, GMC can move right into plans for water and sewer infrastructure, so there will continue to by action at Little Canoe Creek."

CAO Shane Ellison explained during last week's work session that the county had advertised a Request for Qualifications during the month of December, and GMC was the only one to respond.

"This makes the decision easy, especially since GMC is providing engineering services for the roadwork and pad construction that's currently underway," he said.

Currently, grading contractors are working to finish the 60-acre pad at the site, which has been impacted negatively because of rainy weather in the area. Commissioners said GMC is actively working to confirm plans for bidding on a new project that will expand the pad, clear land for site visibility and add additional roadwork to the site.

The commission authorized that funds for the project would come from money the county received via the American Rescue Act, which will go specifically toward the associated contract fees.

More: American Rescue Plan: Where's Gadsden going to spend that $24 million?

However, there are plans to attempt to recoup some of the money spent on the project at the state level. Ellison last week said the county will be looking at ways the state could match the ARPA funding for the project, which it will "be paying close attention to."

"I want this development and we need this development, but at the same time we need to see if we can catch our bets and see if we can get at least half of that money back," said Commissioner Tim Ramsey, "If we can get the state to pay some of that back to us, we need to be doing something ahead of time to make sure we do this correctly."

This announcement comes two weeks after the announcement of the A-USA Rail Corridor expansion by the state to the tune of $231 million, which could link the mega-site with the Port of Mobile. The county indicated it is "working to build on that economic development momentum," according to the official announcement.

Additionally, the county has received two grant awards through the Growing Alabama Program, with Norfolk Southern Railroad funding $5.7 million of these grants.

"The commission is excited about Gov. (Kay) Ivey's announcement regarding A-USA and thankful for Norfolk Southern's additional investment in the project," Grant said. "Now we want everyone to know that we have faith in ourselves."

Commissioners also approved a third change order for the mega-site, which removed lime treatment for roadbed stabilization that will be replaced with chert.

Overall, commissioners expressed excitement over the news of the mega-site, calling it "a big deal."

"I think this is a step in the right direction," said Commissioner Jamie Grant. "The mega-site is going to be something exciting and it's going to be here in a hurry."

"With this next investment of over $2,000,000, Etowah County is definitely sending a strong message to all parties: We are open for business," the Commission added.

The commission also approved vacating a portion of Kershaw Quarters Road, with no public comments being heard on the matter before approval. Johnny Grant abstained from voting because of having personal ties to the property in question.

A resolution that allows guardrails and end anchors to be built for the culvert spanning Black Creek on Pleasant Hill Road also was approved. It will be funded by the Local Road Safety Initiative Grant received by the county.

This article originally appeared on The Gadsden Times: Etowah commissioners approve Little Canoe Creek project