Grow Linden plan ready for implementation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 7, 2007

LINDEN &8212; The planning phase of the Grow Linden effort came to a tentative close Tuesday night with a presentation by Ken Walker and Dr. Ken Tucker of the University of West Alabama.

The evening began with remarks from Councilwoman Mitzi Gates, who noted the recent loss of jobs at Linden Lumber during the last several weeks and its impact on the community.

The real focus of the meeting was to present the findings of the meetings and listening sessions conducted since a team of economic and community developers met with Linden citizens in May.

The effort has been sustained with a $20,000 granted awarded to the Linden City Council and Industrial Development Board from the University of West Alabama&8217;s Small Business Development Center and Regional Center for Community Economic Development.

The grant proposal, titled GROW Linden &8212; which is an acronym for goals, research, outreach and work &8212; came to fruition when Mary Randolph, executive director of the Wyoming Rural Development Council became involved in the project.

Tucker, who claims Linden as his hometown, commended the audience members &8212; many of whom were with the effort since the beginning &8212; for their enthusiasm and the common thread they shared of concern for the community.

Walker said the basic approach to the ensuing research was to ask people in all aspects of community life &8212; education, law enforcement, healthcare and others &8212; three basic questions: What are the problems Linden faces? What are the assets of the city? Where would you like to see the city in five years?

Walker went on to say, based on these questions, the overwhelming response was to focus on three areas: economic development and industry, education, and infrastructure and pride.

Economic development and industry

According Walker, one of the primary concerns for the city was to address the economic development situation and address ways to bring industrial growth to the area. Furthermore, these are the projects mentioned as part of the five-year plan for the city:

Establish a Chamber of Commerce within one year.

Build a Web site for marketing within five months.

Get state and private involvement in the growth of the community within five months.

Establish a 24-hour daycare within five months.

Diversify industry within one year.

Address lack of businesses downtown within five months.

Zoning to reflect impacts of bypass within one year.

Education

Walker explained another primary concern lay with education, listing these projects as part of the plan:

Strengthen drug awareness programs within two years.

Combine educational opportunities within two years.

Establish a unified school system within three years.

Infrastructure and pride

A final concern, Walker said, involved the city&8217;s infrastructure and what projects could be done to bring both pride and accomplishment to the community.

Establish more youth activities and entertainment within one year.

Establish an anti-litter campaign within five months.

Construct a TEA-21 project, such as a fountain in the city center within five months.

Work on housing development within five years.

Build a walking trail within five years.

Build a recreation community or sports complex within five years.

Develop a senior center within four years.

According to Walker, approximately 85 Linden citizens have committed to working on one or two of the city&8217;s projects. Walker said the next step in the process is to get committees assembled so projects can begin.