Though the $5 million Rotary Trail linear park is not finished, officials are ready to light up the 46-foot sign at the 20th Street entrance.
After a press conference in the neighboring Daniel Building this evening, officials plan to flip the switch on the sign between 6:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. to light up the red letters proclaiming the site of “Rotary Trail in the Magic City.”
The actual trail itself will have a grand opening later this year. Following an abandoned railroad cut, much of the trail is below street level.
The western gateway’s Rotary Trail Sign is a gift from BL Harbert International along with the donation of the raw materials from O’Neal Steel. Daniel Iron fabricated the structure and Fravert Services created its letters.
Rotary Trail was made possible by a lead gift from the Rotary Club of Birmingham and donations from the city of Birmingham and a number of corporations.
Last week, the Rotaract Club of Birmingham and the Alabama Power Foundation worked together to install two mobile solar charging stations on the Rotary Trail.
Rotary Club member Cheryl Morgan has served as co-chair to Bill Jones on the Rotary Trail Committee and is a longtime advocate of creative and progressive urban design.
“We’re the largest Rotary Club in the world and in 2013 we celebrated our 100th Anniversary and we decided this would be the centennial project for Birmingham’s downtown rotary,” Morgan told the Birmingham City Council in a release. “The Rotary Club was looking for a plan that would be transformational and would be a legacy gift to the city of Birmingham. There were many ideas that were proposed to the committee, but this project, which was presented by Freshwater Land Trust, was a piece of the larger trail system that is developing in our communities.”
“We wanted to have a place that was embedded in that concept of connecting people across our entire communities. Plus, this would be taking an eyesore and transforming it into an oasis in the heart of our city,” Morgan said.
“We believe trails are so beneficial on so many fronts,” she added. “If you can get people out and participating with nature and out and walking, it has incredible health benefits and community building benefits as well. We think this transformation of this four blocks of blight is something that is extraordinarily beautiful that will have economic benefits for the whole downtown and for years to come.”
Birmingham City Council President Johnathan Austin said he’s looking forward to the lighting of the trail and looks forward to more trails and park renovations that will continue to connect Birmingham.
“There are endless opportunities for green spaces and trails to serve as the new catalyst for great parks and overall recreational features in our communities,” Austin said. “This trail is symbolic of the unlimited potential that the Magic City is realizing. I look forward to taking part in all of the activities, especially the amphitheater. That’s a huge feat for our entertainment sector.”