FOLEY — Residents of Parish Lakes have three major concerns about the possible location of Blue Collar Country and a multi-sports complex and field near their subdivision: noise, traffic and visual obstruction of the green space surrounding the …
FOLEY — Residents of Parish Lakes have three major concerns about the possible location of Blue Collar Country and a multi-sports complex and field near their subdivision: noise, traffic and visual obstruction of the green space surrounding the area.
A number of those residents, along with several from neighboring Glen Lakes, expressed those concerns during a meeting with Foley city leaders Tuesday evening. The question-and-answer session included Mayor John Koniar, City Administrator Mike Thompson and City Economic Development Director Jeff Rouzie.
One concerned resident was April Harris, who said that she and her husband live directly behind what will be the sports complex and are concerned that their home’s tranquility will be impeded.
“My husband and I chose that spot for a specific reason,” she said.
But Thompson pointed out that green-space buffers are planned so that sound would be filtered. He added that today’s lighting can be better controlled.
In addition, Koniar recapped how both ventures were born.
“We started talking with Blue Collar about 18 months ago,” he said. “They had looked at The Wharf, and it didn’t work out.”
Koniar said that Blue Collar continued to search for a location for its entertainment destination, leading city leaders to try to bring it to Foley to increase revenue and to tap into the tourism markets it would draw and that already exist along the Gulf Coast.
The city leaders also told Tuesday’s attendees that both ventures are still in the survey stage. However, tree-line buffers are planned between Parish Lakes and the city’s multi-sport field and complex that would be located north of it. They offered the same explanation for buffering residents from Blue Collar Country. In addition, Thompson said lighting technology had advanced to the point that it would not be seen in the neighborhood. Plus, Koniar added that any major music concerts would likely be held indoors.
The city leaders also reminded residents that the majority of the land tapped for both ventures had previously been county-run property, but was in the process of being annexed into the city of Foley and would then have a greater police presence. In addition, they pointed out that plans were under way to improve both Juniper Street and Pride Drive.
“This facility (Blue Collar Country) does create 1,400 jobs,” Thompson said, adding that the sports complex would enable the city of Foley to expand its draw on the youth-sports tourism market.
One resident asked whether the developer of Parish Lakes was aware that Blue Collar Country was planned when it began selling homes in the neighborhood. City leaders said no.
“It was only six months ago that they closed on the land,” Koniar said.
“There won’t be anything like The Hangout, right?” another resident asked.
“That’s correct,” Rouzie said.
While some residents continued to voice concerns, others were equally vocal about their support of the coming ventures.
“I’m directly behind where that ballfield is going to be,” one woman said. “I’m tickled to death.”
Another woman echoed both that sentiment and the earlier comment on what could have happened if the property had not been annexed into Foley.
“Anybody could have come in here and bought this property,” she said. “What would we have had that this time? Big metal buildings. Considering what we could have had, it could have been much, much worse. Parish Lakes, as a subdivision, could have it much worse.
The city leaders said they would continue to meet with the residents as the projects progressed.