By MADOLINE MARKHAM
The City of Mountain Brook is planning a Cahaba River Park on Overton Road at Oakdale Drive near I-459. The 4.7- acre park will back up to the Cahaba River.
The city acquired the land for the park last fall from Brookwood Baptist Church and reviewed plans for development by Nimrod Long and Associates in January.
“The park will serve as a gateway coming into our city from the southeast,” City Council President Virginia Smith said. “I feel like it’s going to add something to the southern part of Mountain Brook. Most of the current parks are closer to the Villages.”
Nimrod Long’s rendering includes walking trails, a fishing ledge, a gazebo, picnic tables and benches. There would also be a parking area.
“When you get down into the park land, it’s really quite private and remote,” firm President Nimrod Long said. “It’s a very beautiful piece of property with large hardwoods, 75 to 100 years old. The views onto the river feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.”
Long said the park could one day connect to a riverfront greenway trail similar to the Jemison Trail; a trail could run 1.5 to 2 miles to the Carraway-Davie House and Conference Center in Vestavia.
Cahaba River Park could also be part of a blueway if river access points were added downstream, according to Long. For now, there is one canoe launch closer to the Carraway-Davie House.
“The river is pretty dramatic in that area (where the park will be),” Long said. “It’s wide at one part and has rapids on another part. It’s not bad for fishing and will have better access with the boulders we could add.”
Nimrod Long and Associates worked with the Cahaba River Society to design features of the park that will cause the least amount of environmental impact to the river. They also have research plans to reforest some of the area to get rid of invasive species and add native trees.
Smith, who lives near the property on the river, said she had been envisioning a park there for about a decade.
“I am thrilled that we have the parcel for the park and appreciate the church working with us,” Smith said.
The city has not yet budgeted money for the park, so the earliest that construction would start is late 2012 or early 2013.
“We are very excited about this park for our residents,” said City Manager Sam Gaston. “I think it will be a wonderful addition to our community.”
For now, Smith and Gaston are encouraging area residents to provide feedback and ideas for the park plans.
The city will hold a meeting for neighbors to hear about plans for Cahaba River Park and share their input Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. at Brookwood Baptist Church.
“We hope the neighbors will have some ideas, perhaps even those who are using the property without us knowing about it,” Smith said.
Smith and Gaston (firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-3800) ask that you contact them if you are unable to be at the meeting but have suggestions for the park.