Dallas County Commission gives nod to Taylorville

Published 10:34 pm Monday, August 11, 2008

Dr. Bruce Taylor didn’t get everything he was seeking Monday night, but he will press on.

Taylorville, his $1.5 million project, will go ahead on schedule despite action from the Selma City Council affecting a planned sports complex to compliment the family entertainment center.

During its Monday meeting, a group of city council members sought to study Taylor’s proposal to sell the city a $4 million sport complex, but that move failed 5-4. The move came after nearly two hours of discussion about the project.

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Taylor said he plans to go ahead with construction of the family entertainment center, which will include activities like bowling, ski ball, putt-putt golf and video games. There will also be a pond and gazebos to accommodate picnics and family reunions.

“The family entertainment center is something that we are definitely doing,” Taylor said. “It really does not count on a vote from a governing body. We held a feasibility study that will be complete Aug. 25. We have a commitment from Oppenheimer, who will help us with the funding. So the family entertainment center is a go.”

Oppenheimer, whose headquarters are in New York City, is an investment bank and full-service investment firm that provides financial services and advice to investors, individuals, businesses and institutions. It is helping Taylor fund the project.

At one point during the council meeting, Mayor James Perkins Jr. proposed a bond issue to enable the city to purchase the sports complex.

Jason Marshall of Oppenheimer said the city could purchase the land by paying $38,000 a month for 20 years.

Council members debated the alternative briefly.

Before the council meeting, Taylor petitioned the Dallas County Commission to vacate Johnson Road, allowing uninhibited access to U.S. 80 West. Taylor Properties LLC owns all the lots adjacent to Johnson Road, which is in the vicinity of the existing Selma Softball Complex.

The commission verbally committed to grant Taylor’s request and set a public hearing for Sept. 15 to officially vote to vacate the road.

Approval will allow Taylor to start construction on the family entertainment center, which he estimates can begin late this year or early next year.

Greg Kamback with Bird and Kamback Architects in Huntsville and real estate attorney Craig Williams with Bausch and Bingham in Birmingham presented the formal plans at both meetings.

Local contractor Danny Lane with D&L Construction and Marshall with Oppenheimer in Atlanta were also present with Taylor.

Plans for the sports complex included youth baseball and football fields, soccer fields and indoor basketball courts.

Selma Parks and Recreation Director Elton Reece said the new facilities would have helped with overscheduling of youth games and would have given the city a luxury it doesn’t currently possess — a gymnasium.

It also would have given the Concordia College soccer team a true home field. The team currently plays on the baseball field at Bloch Park.

“If the city council would find how to pay for it, then I would use every inch of it to the best of my ability and for the good of the city,” Reece said. “I don’t know where it goes from here, but I could make use of it.”

Even without the complex, Taylor is confident the development can have widespread regional appeal.

“Because of lack of entertainment of this kind in the Black Belt area, we will literally be marketing from the Mississippi line to Autaugaville up to Clanton and down to Camden,” Taylor said.

Times-Journal executive editor Leesha Faulkner contributed to this report.