FLORENCE — The money is in hand to commission a sculpture commemorating the musical heritage of the Muscle Shoals area, and has been for quite some time.
But no one has made a decision yet where to put it.
Money for the 18- to 20-foot Singing River sculpture was raised privately through a variety of events. The money — more than $20,000 — was then given to the city to be used to commission the work to be placed on city property. That was almost two years ago.
The sculptures, which are stylized figures of musicians from various musical genres, call attention to influential musicians of the area and their music. W.C. Handy, the Father of the Blues, and Sam Phillips, the Father of Rock ’n’ Roll, were from Florence. The Muscle Shoals recording industry is world renowned.
“You must pick a site,” David Anderson told the City Council recently. He is part of the committee helping erect the sculptures in the cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia. Sheffield unveiled its sculpture in late 2012. “It’s up to you to commission the sculpture.”
Initially, the City Council selected the Memorial Grove site on a hill overlooking Florence Boulevard. But the group developing the memorials at the site of the former National Guard armory didn’t think the sculpture would be appropriate, and the council agreed after realizing it had already authorized development of memorials honoring law enforcement and the military.
“Looking back, I’m not sure that was the best place,” Councilman Andy Betterton said. He chairs the Parks and Recreation Committee.
Betterton said the sculpture has not been the topic of a committee meeting yet, but he believes property managed by the Parks and Recreation Department might be the best place for it.
“Now that the tourism facility is ready to move forward, I think the entrance to McFarland Park would be a great place for the sculpture,” he said.
Florence-Lauderdale Tourism is poised to build a new office and visitors center in McFarland Park on the Tennessee River. It is expected to be completed this fall.
“There was discussion of a master plan for McFarland Park a few years ago, but it was removed from the agenda because of the economy,” Betterton said. “Now might be a good time to bring that back up again.”
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.