By Kim West
County officials plan to add approximately 65 parking spaces for the Limestone County Event Center, once the purchase of the former Tennessee Valley Wholesalers property has been finalized.
During Monday’s meeting, the commission unanimously approved buying a lot on East Pryor Street that includes the former Tennessee Valley Wholesalers warehouse and shed for up to $85,000, plus closing costs and pending contract approval by the county attorney.
Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee said after the meeting that once the county owns the property, both buildings would be removed in the coming months to make way for parking spaces.
The 1/2-acre tract of land is adjacent to a First Baptist Church parking lot and within 300 yards of the event center. Since people will have to cross railroad tracks to reach the facility from the lot, Menefee said he has spoken to Mayor Ronnie Marks about the possibility of adding a pedestrian walkway over the tracks.
The county-owned center, which shares a parking lot with the Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives on Pryor Street near downtown Athens, currently has 80 to 100 spaces available, said Menefee.
The center, which opened in September 2010, at times serves as a venue for events drawing 500 or more people, such as the Pink Elephant Luncheon last month and the exhibition and district spirit rally sponsored Monday night by Limestone County Schools.
“We generally have 150 to 250 people for an average event, and more parking is definitely needed,” said County Parks and Recreation Director Mike Nave, who oversees the 10,000-square foot facility. “We use all the surrounding areas for parking that let us, because normally our parking lot is not enough.”