SHEFFIELD — City Council members have approved the creation of the Sheffield Port Authority that could assist in the continued development of an educational/interpretive center at Tuscumbia Landing.
The authority’s creation does not mean Sheffield will be constructing a facility like the one in Florence that loads and unloads barges containing items such as sand and aluminum ingots.
Councilman Steve Stanley said the Code of Alabama spells out a variety of port authority powers aside from managing an industrial port.
“(Sheffield’s is) more focused on developing the Tuscumbia landing historical site,” Stanley said.
The creation of the port authority was suggested by City Attorney Vince McAllister.
“We were looking for a vehicle to utilize for Tuscumbia Landing,” Mayor Ian Sanford said.
He said the council approved a resolution Oct. 1 forming the port authority. According to state law, a port authority can acquire property, rights of way, streets and rail lines, and lease property to other tenants. It can borrow money to complete projects and issue bonds and securities, according to the code. It also can make and enforce rules and regulations governing the use of any project, property or facilities owned or controlled by the authority.
The project at Tuscumbia Landing is a cooperative effort among the Southeastern Anthropological Institute, Northwest-Shoals Community College and the National Park Service.
The plan includes creating an educational/interpretive center that recognizes Tuscumbia Landing’s role in the Trail of Tears, early industry and commerce in the Shoals, and early transportation through its connection to the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad.
“Vince thinks establishing a port authority in itself will draw some attention to the project,” Stanley said. “We’re waiting on the park service to finish their development plan. Hopefully when that’s done, we can get it going in earnest to raise funds to do what the plan calls for.”
McAllister said the port authority still has to be approved by the Colbert County Commission and the State Docks Authority.
Stanley said the authority will be operated by a five-member board composed of two people appointed by the City Council, two appointed by the Colbert County Commission and a fifth member appointed by the four appointed members.
Stanley said the development of Tuscumbia Landing could lead to renovations at Park West.
“When it opened it was probably the nicest park in the Shoals area,” Stanley said.
The park has picnic pavilions, grills and an exercise trail, and the council has discussed developing recreational vehicle camping sites.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.