Forest Lake residents discuss rebuilding plan

Forest Lake residents discuss rebuilding plan

William Evans

Concerned owners of property in Forest Lake met Thursday, Dec. 1, at Forest Lake United Methodist Church to discuss the rebuilding of the community under the guidelines of the Tuscaloosa Forward Plan. That meeting was the last of four community meetings held in the city to discuss the future of Alberta, 15th Street and McFarland Boulevard, and the Rosedale and Forest Lake communities. Thursday, property owners of Forest Lake sat around tables with black and white maps depicting proposed greenway paths for the community. The greenway paths open up space for sidewalks and greenery, but multiple proposed paths exist. Beth Riggs said she came to the Forest Lake meeting to show her support for the Tuscaloosa Forward Plan and to select her choice of the several proposed greenway paths available on the black and white maps. “I think it will bring the neighborhood together and make it more attractive,” she said. Joe Bassett, who owns nine rental properties in the Forest Lake area, said the proposed greenways expose Forest Lake to unwanted foot traffic from the surrounding communities. Also, having clear-cut, public paths such as greenways improves the likelihood of criminals trespassing onto private properties in Forest Lake. “It makes the chances of somebody doing something they shouldn’t be doing much greater,” he said. Representatives of Almon Associates, the lead engineering firm for the City of Tuscaloosa’s rebuilding effort, were present at the meetings. Meredith Lynch, public relations coordinator for the Incident Command team that is overseeing City Hall’s response to and recovery from the tornadoes, said the community meetings last week were designed to gather feedback from those affected by the April storms. “Early on, we had a lot of meetings getting the public’s input,” she said. “We were seeking big ideas for a vision to rebuild, and it was a huge concept at first. Once we established a plan and an overall vision, we wanted to get input on the details of the plan, and that’s what this week’s meetings have been about. We wanted to have people from the impacted areas to come and say, ‘This is what I want in my neighborhood.’” Amelia Dodd said she was interested in coming to the community meeting because of the opportunity for the positive re-development of Forest Lake that the Tuscaloosa Forward Plan presents. “My concern is for the rebuilding and the rebirth of our neighborhood and for the homeowners and residents that Forest Lake comes back as aesthetically pleasing as it can be,” she said. An updated Tuscaloosa Forward master plan will be released in January, she said. More community meetings will be held starting next year before final decisions on the Tuscaloosa Forward Plan are reached.