FLORENCE — The next city administration will be getting a list of priorities for downtown from the merchants association.
In a meeting Tuesday morning of Downtown Florence Unlimited, several topics were brought up for inclusion in a more formal list that will be delivered to City Hall when the new mayor and council take office Nov. 5.
City Councilman Dick Jordan, whose district includes downtown, encouraged the group to give the new administration the list of what it would like to see happen during the next four years.
DFU President Van Morgan said one of the most important concerns is what will become of Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital if state health officials approve construction of a replacement hospital, which would be built off Helton Drive in east Florence.
An empty, multi-story building on the edge of the downtown business district is a worrying proposition for merchants. Russell Pigg, chief executive officer of the hospital, said his company will work with city officials and others should the state clear the way to build the new hospital.
“The plan to redeploy the hospital will be a high priority for DFU,” Morgan said.
Other issues mentioned during the meeting at Dish Cafe were opening an entrance to the parking deck on Mobile Street, establishing an entertainment district downtown and building a bridge on West College Street to the sportsplex off Alabama 20.
Morgan described the law passed earlier this year by the Legislature allowing the creation of entertainment districts in cities such as Florence as “cryptic” because it is vaguely written.
“It says you can carry an adult beverage outside an establishment onto the street — in theory,” he said. “That’s obviously going to be controversial, but this group must decide whether to support it and how it will be written.”
Jackie Hendrix, chairman of the board of directors of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, said a compromise could be struck on an entertainment district.
“You could set certain parameters on where you can take (alcoholic beverages) outside,” he said. Jordan said any changes to the city’s alcohol ordinances should be approached with caution.
“The entertainment district law needs a lot of study,” he said.
In a separate matter, it was announced there will be a downtown open house for businesses Dec. 8.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.