HISTORIC YEAR: From new roads to new developments, Troy shines
Published 3:00 am Friday, January 1, 2016
If you had to pick two words to describe the City of Troy’s year, it might be “endings” and “beginnings.”
Among the biggest endings was the resolution of what was sometimes referred to as the “Nightmare on Elm Street Road.” A project originally designed to resurface and repair the Elm Street Road led to the need for not simply repaired drainage but the construction of a new bridge on a section of the road. That, combined with normal delays in construction and the wait for needed federal and state funding, led to months of detours and frustration for both the residents who used the road daily and city officials.
The road was officially closed May 28 and it reopened about 2 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2015. Councilman Greg Meeks, whose district includes that area, was among the first to drive the newly opened stretch. “I’ve already driven up and down it,” he said hat afternoon. “I know that the people of Districts 1 and 2 are going to be pleased.”
Mayor Jason Reeves was pleased, as well, reiterating that while original plans called for resurfacing the nearly three miles of damaged roadway and reconstructing an existing drainage culvert, 10-year traffic studies indicated a significant growth for that area and forced a change in plans to include a 40-foot wide suspension bridge. “It’s a road that we can be proud of for many, many years to come,” Reeves said. “It’s designed and built to accommodate growth … we’re where we need to be for the future.”
Other endings came in personnel moves. Troy Police Chief Jimmy Ennis retired in September, after four years as police chief. The role capped a 32-year career in public service, much of it with the Troy Police Department.
“I’ve been very blessed,” he said at the time. “I couldn’t have worked with a better city or with better people.”
Randall Barr was appointed to replace Ennis.
Another career ending was announced in 2015, as long-time fire chief Thomas Outlaw will retire in March 2016. Four internal candidates interviewed in December for the position: Fire Marshal Willie Jones, Capt. James Rhodes, Capt. Curtis Shaver and Capt. Buford Stephens. The council was scheduled to appoint a chief in late December but has delayed that vote until January 2016.
As for beginnings, well, one of the biggest is the new Park Place Commercial Development on U.S. 231 and the construction of two new connector roads in Troy.
The retail development will be anchored by a Publix grocery store and is scheduled to open in 2017. The development was formally announced in April, after months of speculation, and representatives of developers Harbert Realty as well as Publix joined city officials for a groundbreaking on Dec. 21.
“This day is years in the making,” Troy Mayor Jason Reeves told the nearly 100 business and government representatives gathered under a tent for the ceremony.
“I lived in a mobile home about 200 yards back there,” he said, nodding to the cleared worksite behind him. “Working the second shift at KW, never could I have imagined this day would come.”
Hailed as “the most significant economic development opportunity” Troy has experienced in years, the nearly $10 million retail development positions Troy to expand its retail base and will add more than 100 jobs at the Publix alone.
“I just can’t tell you how excited we are to be here,” said David Currey, Regional Director for Publix Super Markets Inc. “This is going to be a great project for the city of Troy and the people participating in it. Thank you for having us as your partner.”
The $7.7 million connector road project is perhaps even more significant in the city’s long-term development, leaders said. It was the lynchpin in the retail recruitment package for the Publix development and will be the city’s largest road infrastructure project in its history.
The Enzor Road Connector Project includes 2.4 miles of new road construction. George Wallace Drive will be extended to Enzor Road and Franklin Drive will extend to Oak Park, connecting to Highway 87/167.
Work began Nov. 1 and is scheduled to be completed Nov. 30, 2016.
“The roads are as big as anything,” said John Ramage, board president for the Pike County Economic Development Corp. “Those roads are opening 300 acres for retail, commercial and residential development.”
The mayor described the roads and the Park Place project as “the first domino to fall in an unprecedented growth for this community.”
“This has been a white whale that has been being chased for a long time,” he said.
As part of its positioning for future growth, the city refinanced its debt through the bond market and secured financing for several projects, including the road construction and a major sewer and water infrastructure improvement project. In doing so, the city received an “A+” credit rating for the first time.
“They like Troy. This is good news. This is a report card for how the city has been doing with the taxpayers’ money,” said Rush Rice, who handles the city’s bond financing.
“It’s very objective. These analysts are very smart. They’re unbiased. They look at the numbers pure and simple.”
The city also saw significant growth in other areas of economic development, as Lockheed Martin purchased Sirkorsky Support Services Inc.; CGI expanded its local presence and added new projects, as well as grew its workforce; and Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations opened a cruise missile annex in August, added 62,000 square feet to its facilities.
Efforts to promote and grow the downtown area were a focus for city officials in 2015, with the continued coordination of downtown activities led by the city and the Downtown Development Committee of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce.
From Fifth Saturday events to tailgating on the Square, a full calendar of activities drew thousands of residents to the downtown area throughout the year.