FLORENCE — Organizers drafting a plan for the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area have selected a management option that provides flexibility for the area’s administrators and the partners the organization will be assisting.
Federal law requires the group organizing the management plan to provide alternatives for managing the area, which includes cultural, historical and recreational assets in Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties.
The National Heritage Area program was established by the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service.
Judy Sizemore, director of the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area, said establishing alternatives for how to staff the office is just one step in the process in the area’s creation.
“The next thing we’ll be doing is coming up with our draft plan,” Sizemore said. “We hope to have that by early 2013.”
After presenting five plans to the small group that attended Tuesday’s meeting, planner Phil Walker said a “three-pronged technical assistance” alternative had been selected for organizing the staff that would manage the area.
“It’s the best-of-all-worlds alternative,” Walker said.
Under this alternative, the area will have an administration team with a person on staff to handle technical assistance. The alternative also will allow the administration to hire outside consultants or specialists to work on a particular project.
Each entity being served by the National Heritage Area, such as cultural assets or events, would have the option of hiring someone to help with a project, or ask administration to provide technical assistance.
Other alternatives included an administration with in-house technical assistance and one that simply allowed each partner to hire its own consultants.
Recognizing its unique qualities and resources, Congress created the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area in 2009. The Heritage Area’s administration will help those assets maximize their potential as attractions.
“The alternatives came out of the meeting we had in February,” Sizemore said. “Since that time, they have studied them and tested them, looking at both the good and bad of each alternative.”
Sizemore said she expects the project to be completed by August.
Sizemore encourages the public to attend the meetings held by the planning committee and offer their input.
“The more involved they are, when the plan comes out they will understand everything we’ve gone through to develop the plan,” she said.
A similar meeting will be at 3 p.m. today at the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.
For details about the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area, go to msnha.una.edu.
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.