RAINSVILLE — The Tennessee Valley Authority’s board is making 1,000 acres of public land on its Muscle Shoals Reservation available for auction as part of an economic redevelopment project.
The al.com news website reports the board of directors unanimously approved the plan Thursday.
Rob Manning, TVA chief energy delivery officer, said it could be a year before the auction and years before construction takes place. Nevertheless, he called it a big step to helping the Shoals community.
Muscle Shoals Mayor David Bradford said the board’s decision is part of the process to bring the property on the market.
“This was a huge step in getting the board to say yes we agree the property should be surplus and be used for redevelopment,” Bradford said Thursday night.
“This has been a continuous process,” he added. “We knew this was not something that could be done overnight.”
Manning said there is one more public meeting to get community ideas, and then TVA will begin forming a master plan.
The Muscle Shoals Reservation once was used to build bomb materials for the U.S. War Department. The government gave it to TVA in 1933, and it was used to make fertilizer for decades.
TVA land’s potential availability for economic development has been discussed for the past few years. Local environmentalists have urged caution in developing the property because the site has a complex mix of wetlands, walking trails, historic buildings and slag heaps.
In 2007, the Northwest Alabama Cooperative District was formed consisting primarily of representatives from the cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia and from Colbert and Lauderdale counties. The group was to work with TVA staff and evaluate possible redevelopment opportunities for the site.
TVA’s local property encompasses 3,000 acres. The original study area for public auction was 1,400 acres, but it was later determined that approximately 1,000 acres is the most suitable to market, according to a TVA release.
The current redevelopment plan encourages property use for commercial, retail and industrial purposes. It also calls for designated green space.
A final public meeting will take place the first half of 2013.
The redevelopment plan will then be submitted for approval. TVA officials will inspect the property for appraisals and site work that must be completed before the auction. No date has been set for the auction, but it will be an open auction with no sealed bids, according to a TVA release.
A decision on whether the land will be sold as a single piece or in parcels has not been finalized.
TimesDaily Senior Staff Writer Tom Smith and City Editor Sherhonda Allen contributed to this report.