We know some grumbling Joe Btfsplks (Google “Lil’ Abner” if you just said “Huh?”) remain unconvinced, but Gadsden’s riverfront is taking shape as a true showpiece.
The Venue at Coosa Landing is about to celebrate its first anniversary, and even the grumblers would have to concede it’s been a smashing success and is a much superior venue to the aged (albeit historic) Convention Hall it replaced. The proof is in the activity there, which has been constant with a variety of events and functions.
Buffalo Wild Wings is poised to open during football season, when wing consumption spikes, and the city is proactively working on an adjacent piece of land for both restaurant parking and potential retail occupancy.
The RiverWalk at Coosa Landing offers plenty of leisure activities and spots to enjoy the Coosa River.
Now, the City of Gadsden is moving to tie things together by connecting the Coosa Landing boat docks with The Venue. We think it’s another smart move.
The City Council last week approved the purchase of 0.89 acres of land from B&L Holdings (Ronnie Watkins Ford’s formal business company) that lies between the two entities for $125,000. The plan is to construct a connecting road that would go underneath Memorial Bridge on Broad Street. (A roadbed already is in place so it shouldn’t be an overly difficult undertaking, although additional money will be required to make the road a reality.)
Fishing tournament participants — whose spending benefits both local governments and businesses — wouldn’t have to cut through the parking lot in the small shopping center at the foot of the bridge’s eastern side to get to Coosa Landing. (Those who just want to hang out at Coosa Landing — it’s a pretty place — also would benefit from an additional, less problematic way to get in.)
More importantly, anglers could use the signal at The Venue’s entrance when heading home, instead of having to force their vehicles hauling large boats into the heavy, everyday traffic on Broad Street or George Wallace Drive.
Also, the current parking lot at Coosa Landing can get a bit crowded, so the move would allow spaces at The Venue to be used for additional parking.
We’ve praised the city’s efforts at riverfront development, something that has been talked about for decades as a key to moving Gadsden forward (look what it’s done in places like Rome, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee).
We acknowledge the grumblers, who probably see this as more wasteful spending that’s going to do little as far as “bringing in jobs.” We’ll again note that “bringing in jobs” in the 21st century can’t be constrained in the old-school box of a dominant, “home run” manufacturing plant — those days aren’t returning — and modern developers absolutely consider the quality of life offerings at potential sites.
Given the city’s track record of economic prudence under Mayor Sherman Guyton, we’ll assume that it paid a fair price for this land and will get the road built for the smallest possible price tag.
In short, it strikes us as another investment, not just an expenditure.