By Evan Belanger, Staff Writer, The Decatur Daily
When locals see Decatur’s Ingalls Harbor on Alabama 20, most think the facility known for hosting fishing tournaments is complete, but it’s not.
That’s the message local officials brought to the City Council in a presentation Monday.
Requested by Council President Greg Reeves, the visual presentation showed the council and Mayor Don Stanford plans for five additional phases to cost an estimated $6.66 million.
Among other features, the plans called for a pavilion capable of seating about 750 people, construction of a building that could house a river-heritage museum, and smaller pavilions.
They also included the placement of additional docks, landscaping, parking improvements, utility work and a lighthouse to mark the harbor’s entrance.
Landscaping architect John Godwin of Godwin and Barnett Architecture, who gave the presentation, said the improvements would complement the park’s primary use as center for fishing activities.
It would also provide additional recreation opportunities for local residents who do not necessarily fish, he said.
“There are not any of your constituents who would not be able to use this,” he told the mayor and council.
Tami Reist, president of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said construction of the pavilion at an estimated cost of $2 million is the top priority for Ingalls Harbor, and that it is time for city to move the project forward.
Toward that goal, she said, the bureau is requesting a $1 million congressional appropriation this year. It is also seeking municipal funds and will supplement them with the city’s room-occupancy fund.
Established in 2001 at the request of the Decatur-Morgan County Hospitality Association, the room-occupancy fund collects $2 for every local hotel stay. Funds from the account go to promote local tourism.
Support for project
Reist estimated the fund would generate about $400,000 this year, compared to a debt payment of $161,919 for the original $4.2 million borrowed for Ingalls Harbor in 2006.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Hospitality Association have submitted letters to the city expressing support for moving the Ingalls Harbor project forward, Reist said.
“When people look at Ingalls Harbor now, they think it’s completed, and it’s not,” she said.
Reeves said that while there are no formal requests for city funds, he thought he spoke for the mayor and the council in saying they are open to the prospect.