Gardendale’s Battle Over Growth

Camps have been forming in Gardendale for years. One camp wants growth. One camp doesn’t want growth. Another camp only wants growth in another part of Gardendale from where they live.

The battle has gone back and forth for a long time.

Except this time it’s different. The stakes are higher. There are broader ramifications to this “win” by the local homeowners in having the proposed townhome development, along Moncrief Road, temporarily stopped. Everyone gets that, right? This win is temporary, not necessarily permanent. The application was rescinded without planning and zoning decision.

Why is this a broader issue? Because there is a lot more riding on the first class complex known as Bill Noble Park than just a place for the local kids to play sports.

Bill Noble Park is all chips on the table. It’s expensive for a town Gardendale’s size. It will no doubt be a feather in the cap of Gardendale in how locals and visitors view Gardendale.

It’s an impressive facility and will serve as a major selling point for city leaders to use in attracting business and investment to Gardendale. That was a major point in building it.

Did I mention it’s also expensive? It is. A 30 plus million dollar bond issue is a big bet for growth. There is no it “may happen.” Big Growth in North Gardendale “must happen” to help pay for Bill Noble Park.

Again, it’s all chips on the table to drive growth, attract people to move to Gardendale and attract more businesses. Grow the tax base.

Investors notice these things. They look for early opportunities around facilities just like Bill Noble Park.

The timing for an investor to want to build townhomes in walking distance of the park is important and telling. Those townhomes would start at $275k.

The City of Gardendale is counting on just this type of investment happening because of the park. It’s why they pushed all their chips to the middle of the table on the type of project that screams come invest here! We want you to live here and bring your business here!

It’s why there is a big advertising campaign with a local TV station talking about how great Gardendale is  for both residents and businesses.

But what if residents around the park don’t want certain kinds of development in their neighborhood?

That’s a big issue, both politically and financially. It’s also too late in the game to have the issue.

Did I mention that Bill Noble Park is expensive?

This will get very interesting, because at some point local politicians will have to override concerns from groups that are against a project. Ouch.

Grab your popcorn. The show is about to start.

Oh, did I mention that 2024 is a local election year?

The folks over around Moncrief Road created a blueprint for other neighborhoods around Bill Noble Park. Find out about the issue early and react swiftly. Create a Facebook group page and get out and meet and mobilize your neighbors. Call the local media outlets for coverage and call your local politicians. Be vocal and united and consistent.

It was impressive and it worked. But for how long?

Too much is riding on the development for apartments, townhomes, hotels, strip malls, restaurants and other businesses around Bill Noble Park.

The park has to be paid for and it will take more than just player and tournament fees.

You need broad economic development that increases the tax base.

Gardendale can’t afford to get a reputation of turning investors away. It’s not a good look if you want to grow quickly or attract the types of businesses that many in Gardendale say they want.

By the way, many of those businesses need a bigger population and evidence of various housing choices within a spectrum of price points to see the area as a place to invest.

The battle in North Gardendale is just beginning. There sure is a lot riding on who wins.