From late Summer 2018 through early Spring 2019, GrowCove volunteers accomplished a number of things to benefit the Cove. Here are some highlights:
Cecil Ashburn Project
GrowCove organized several meetings with the City of Huntsville, ALDOT, Madison County, and the Town of Gurley to proactively address and mitigate negative impacts of this major infrastructure project.
The first public meeting (September 2018) was attended by about 30 people (split between COH and Cove citizens) and focused on emergency services, alternative route conditions and operations, design concerns, business impacts, public communications, travel demand management, and construction timing. Additional private meetings and communications focused on specific aspects of alternative route improvements to support increased traffic, as well as support of transit planning efforts, ridesharing, and flexible business hours/locations. Raising these concerns resulted in positive concrete actions by entities in the City, County, ALDOT, and GrowCove as noted below.
- Cecil Ashburn emergency response plan was created including interagency coordination agreements specific to the Cove, more first responders stationed Cove-side, installation of traffic signal pre-emption devices, wreck clearance policies, and measures to reduce commuter-related congestion in front the Hospital on Governor’s Drive downtown
- Encouraged new COH webpage dedicated to the Cecil Ashburn project, and significant public outreach by the City of Huntsville. A dedicated page on Cecil Ashburn Progress is also located on this site.
- Creation of “Ultimate Commuter Guide” on GrowCove website
- Ridesharing Open House (standing-room only) held at RiverTree Church in December 2018 to provide information and facilitate signups for vanpooling and carpooling programs
- Establishment of two temporary Park ‘n’ Ride areas in the Cove with local partners
- Installation of traffic signal on US-72 from Little Cove Road / Rock Cut Road.
- Optimization of traffic signal operations along Governor’s Drive to reduce congestion that could pose safety issues
- Commitment from ALDOT to perform resurfacing of Governor’s Drive during nighttime to avoid impacts during peak traffic periods.
- Commitment from County to adjust the timing of routine road maintenance (repaving, restriping, reflectors) in District 3 and prioritize routes that have increased traffic from Cecil Ashburn, i.e., Little Cove, Old Big Cove, and Green Mountain Roads
- Restriping and Installation of speed detection warning devices on Little Cove Road
- Commitment from the City and Town of Gurley to minimize private development construction impacts on Rock Cut Road during closure
- Commitment from the County to minimize impacts on local traffic operations on Hobbs Island Road while it undergoes planned safety improvements in Spring 2019
Parks and Recreation
Many residents choose to live in the Cove, in part, due to local recreational opportunities. The Cove has one of the most extensive and connected greenway and sidewalk systems in Huntsville, multiple river access points for fishing and kayaking, a wildlife sanctuary, a regionally-unique natural playground, and a very popular youth sports program. Some neighborhoods also have excellent recreational amenities within them. At the same time, there are gaps in facility provision and access, and GrowCove seeks to address these items via citizen involvement as well as support of existing programs, facilities, and amenities.
- Held discussion forum regarding the new COH park and recreation center on Taylor Road for local residents in October 2018
- Negotiated universal playground and expanded play area footprint to include playground, and potentially an interactive water feature, and pavilion (phased installation, as determined by available funds)
- Created Cove Universal Playground (CUP) committee to design and fundraise for the play area
- The CUP Committee created an online playground survey to determine local demographics, needs, desires, and support. 275 responses received.
- The CUP committee created a “design your dream playground” worksheet that was distributed to every child in five local elementary schools in early January. 350 children’s drawings received, showcasing the favorite recreational elements of primary playground users and increasing community awareness and support
- Ongoing collaboration with City and stakeholders on park site planning to support activities desired by Cove residents and mitigate potential issues (mainly relating to parking, pedestrian access, and impacts on neighbors from park activities)
General GrowCove Civic Organization Accomplishments
- Preliminary definition of GrowCove service area and boundaries, including both incorporated (City of Huntsville) and unincorporated areas of Madison County in the Cove, to better coordinate development and provision of services between local jurisdictions and entities
- Creation of GrowCove website, blog, mailing list, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram accounts to provide civic-oriented information and facilitate communication with Cove residents and businesses.
- Establishment of regular public civic group meetings, featuring speakers and/or updates and opportunities for civic involvement
- Establishment of agreement to hold joint Town Halls in the future including local elected officials representing city, county, and regional interests.
- Coordination with the City of Huntsville to hold its next “Big Picture” planning effort in the Cove, to focus on the creation of small area plans for nodes, corridors, and various geographic subareas within the Cove.
- Creation of a volunteer team to drive membership and plan new local events for all residents of the Cove
- Application for 501(c)3 non-profit designation in March 2019