North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Features

August 8, 2012

Progress 2012: Future Interstate 422 key to Brookside’s economic life

BROOKSIDE — Roger McCondichie has seen the future, and it has a number: 422.

The mayor of the town of Brookside says that the state has told him that the new Interstate 422 — better known now as the proposed Northern Beltline highway — will include an exit for the town. It’s a better proposition than what they originally faced with the highway, which was a separate leg from 422 to the new Interstate 22 — Corridor X, which will connect with I-65 near Fultondale in 2014.

“That was going to cut us into three pieces,” McCondichie said. “I’ve been complaining about it since they came out with it — it would totally destroy us.”Plans have changed, though nothing is on paper just yet. “I don’t have it in writing, but I’ve been promised an exit,” McCondichie said. “We’re talking 20 years from now, but it would be real positive for us.”

Brookside already stands to benefit from I-22, which has two exits in place near the town. “We’ve already annexed property up to I-22 over by Cherry Avenue,” McCondichie said.

That annexation brought a convenience store into the town, which provides much-needed sales tax revenue — the lifeblood of every Alabama municipality. It’s part of an effort to bring more retail businesses into Brookside. McCondichie would love to have something like the new Dollar General store which just opened on Fieldstown Road in Gardendale.

“I’ve offered them some land here, which we would basically give to them with certain requirements, but they haven’t taken us up,” McCondichie said.

For now, McCondichie rides with the ups and downs of Brookside, which is now trying to take advantage of Five Mile Creek — a stream which provides great natural beauty, but which destroyed much of the original central area of the town in massive flooding in 2003.

Brookside opened a new campground next to its already-popular canoeing company at the city park. Word is slowly getting out about the 21-space facility, nestled in a bend in the creek.

The town lost a handful of residents over the last decade, according the 2010 U.S. Census. Its population has remained just above 1,300 for about 30 years.

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