Tuesday’s meeting of the Piedmont City Council was preceded by hour-long work session, during which local business owners discussed with city officials the need to strengthen the city’s commercial sector, with a focus on the city’s abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Kevin Cunningham, CEO of Pinhoti Properties, has been working to bring a restaurant, among other businesses, to his company’s downtown property in order to capture the attention of visitors to the Chief Ladiga trail, while potentially providing as many as 35 jobs.
“What I think needs to happen is that the city needs to get in the mindset that the only industry we really have here is the outdoor industry,” said Cunningham, adding, “The outdoor industry is a $14 Billion industry in Alabama, and we’re getting none of that.”
He went on to explain that while a large number of people utilize the city’s outdoor recreational opportunities, they aren’t really spending any money within the city, due to the lack restaurants and lodging.
Council Member Matt Roger echoed this point, noting that when biking on the Chief Ladiga Trail, he frequently meets a number of people from out of town and even out of state, who complain about having nowhere to stay, locally.
City officials noted that visitors have no other option but to lodge in Jacksonville among other nearby cities.
Another topic of discussion was the need to form a committee to plan more downtown festivals in order to bring more visitors to the downtown area.
Council Member Bobby Hardin requested that the council begin setting dates for this year’s events so that the planning stage could begin.
In response, the 2019 Piedmont Christmas Parade was set for Saturday, December 7th, following a Christmas festival complete with vendors.
The dates for other events are expected to be set in the coming weeks.
In other business, bills for payment were approved in the amount of $515,314.57.
The council agreed to purchase 200 new garbage cans to replace damaged cans for a total of $12,000.
The next regular Piedmont City Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 5th, immediately following the work session, which is set for 5:30pm.