Red Bay’s ACE Assessment to enter Phase II

Vol. 64, No. 12 1 Section, 12 Pages – Wednesday, April 6, 1016
Katie Crum, Staff Writer

Progress is being made in Red Bay’s attempt to become an Alabama Community of Excellence

Phase two of Red Bay’s ACE Assessment will soon be underway. Phase one of the Alabama Communities of Excellence (ACE) project began in August of last year and will hopefully be completed on Monday, April 18th.

ACE is a non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of providing assistance to select communities in order to strengthen their long-term economic success. Phase one of the program involved as assessment of the overall community. The assessment will help officials to determine the strengths and weaknesses of certain areas such as economy, tourism, services, infrastructure, attractions, and quality of life.

“The conclusion of phase one will be at the city council meeting on April 18th,” said Nathan Willingham, Director of Planning and Transportation of North Alabama Council of Local Governments (NACLOG) and Team Captain for Red Bay’s ACE Assessment.

“Phase two will entail setting up a local leadership development program; establishing a 3-5 part vision plan with a mission statement, goals and a strategy to make progress in overall improvement and development; and the designation of a leadership organization that is nonprofit and will help community development move forward and will place focus on long term improvement in areas that are not city owned or public.”

At the conclusion for phase one, results of the community survey will be revealed and city officials will learn what the citizens of Red Bay had to say about what areas of the city need improvement. The survey included questions on topics such as Leadership, Planning and Engagement, Community Assets and Challenges, and Economic Development.

According to documents the ACE team provided the Red Bay News, most of those who took the survey feel the city could benefit from improvement in areas such as beautification, school maintenance and repair, and a wider variety of shops and businesses.

“I think Red Bay has a great beautification program, but there are places for improvement,” Willingham said. “I think if you’re looking at if from an outside visitor perspective some of the industrial areas and businesses could use some landscaping.

He added, “I also think it’s important to work with the school facility to maintain the property. It’s a good facility, but it is older and needs attention. I think we should plan to work on making an effort to improve the building.”

Other problems mentioned in the survey included the lack of a community-based youth leadership programs, the needs for a visitor’s center, and a lack of a mental health facility or obstetrics for expecting mothers.

City Clerk and one of the local ACE coordinators, Linda Holcomb, was proud to offer her opinions of the project. “The ACE Project has great team members and all have and are working hard for great results. Mayor Tiffin is to be commended for bringing the ACE Project to Red Bay and it is an honor for Red Bay to have been chosen as one of the six municipalities to participate from all that applied from the State of Alabama.

I want to say a big thank you to all that took the time to participate in the online survey, as this was a huge part of the project. Feedback from the public is a very necessary part of success in any project.”

According to the ACE program, phase three will be the implementation and comprehensive planning segment. Issues addressed during phase three will include planning, commercial business development, education enhancement, infrastructure, health and human services, retiree attraction, tourism, economic development, and quality of life.

“Phase three will be a comprehensive plan for 20-25 years of physical growth: a long-term strategy for sustainable growth,” Willingham said.

“The point of the ACE program is to come into communities that are prepared to grow but are unsure how to plan development and divvy up responsibility. It has been a real pleasure to work on this project. Red Bay has great potential and a wonderful spirit. Everyone is impressed with the enthusiasm shown by the citizens and leadership.”

Created in 2002 as a non-profit corporation, ACE provides participants with community development programs and tools needed to insure long-term success found through one organization.