City of Montevallo: Our Magic Formula By Hollie Cost, Mayor, City of Montevallo
During 2017, the year of our bicentennial celebration, Montevallo, Alabama, experienced somewhat of a renaissance. While the boom of progress is only now upon us, implementation plans have been underway for more than a decade.
Over the past 10 years, citizens of Montevallo have engaged in a multitude of public meetings focused on developing a shared vision for the future of our community. Youth were asked what their city would need to look like in order for them to decide to raise their own families here one day. Seniors were asked what services and amenities would enhance their lives. Citizens of all ages were challenged to craft a comprehensive development plan that clearly and systematically laid out city centers and appropriate directions for growth and development.
What soared to the surface throughout these discussions was the commitment to build a thriving community with ample opportunities for education, recreation, and occupation. Among other aspirations, our citizens expressed the desire to create a variety of gathering spaces and to continue to nurture and develop our walkable community by focusing on the heart of our town: Main Street.
Developing Main Street became our first goal to accomplish. As a community of action, we secured two federal grants to completely renovate our downtown streetscape. Construction broke ground on Jan. 2, 2017, with the tagline, “200 years of distinction and 200 days of construction.” Upon completion, Montevallo had an accessible streetscape beautified with native species landscaping, decorative lampposts, finely-crafted benches, tinted sidewalks, brick borders, and impressive mast arm traffic signals.
Realizing that construction alone could not strengthen our downtown, we applied for and were awarded a Main Street Alabama designation. As a Main Street community, we’ve been privy to recommendations and training from communities across the nation, as well as the national Main Street organization, regarding appropriate ways to develop a thriving Main Street district. Through our Main Street Montevallo initiative, pocket parks are being developed in two prominent downtown areas, one alongside a charming snickelway, to bring and keep citizens and guests downtown.
Montevallo is not your average small town. Among acres of public green spaces, we house a prestigious public liberal arts university, an American history and civic education center, and the Alabama National Cemetery. Yet, with all these resources, we realize our citizens remain our most significant asset. While we are broadly diverse in terms of race, religion, income level, education level, and background, we are intensely united and firmly committed to working together to strengthen our community. Citizens working together with municipal leadership is truly the magic formula for sustained progress.
Throughout this process, we learned the importance of convening; of growing slowly and deliberately; of truly listening to one another and respectfully disagreeing with each other; and perhaps most importantly, of putting these plans into action. As the mayor of this little unconventional oasis, I can say I am incredibly proud of who we are and who we are committed to become.