Ashford developing master growth plan

Ashford developing master growth plan
New sidewalks and renovations to McArthur Park are giving downtown Ashford a fresh look. (Dennis Washington / Alabama NewsCenter)

The city of Ashford has hired professionals to help it develop a master growth plan.

Brad Kimbro, chairman of the Ashford Downtown Redevelopment Authority (ADRA), said KPS Group in Birmingham will help city leaders put together a comprehensive action plan to maximize the city’s business growth potential.

“There’s a lot of things Ashford can do,” Kimbro said, “but their experiences and professional expertise will tell us what they think Ashford needs to be, based on what we want and what our experiences say you need to do or can do. That will be important because it will be a master plan that will help us stay focused on what we need to do and what we need to avoid.”

Kimbro said a rural development grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will pay for the project.

“Basically the mission is to revitalize the downtown Ashford and the surrounding community,” Kimbro said. “Businesses are going to locate where there are good people but also where there’s good business and that’s what our whole objective is.”

Team effort helping Ashford grow from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

This project is the latest in a series of steps city leaders have taken in recent months to redevelop the downtown area. Other grants and government funding have helped the ADRA revitalize McArthur Park, pour new sidewalks and repave parking areas. Kimbro credits assistance from the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, the Houston County Commission, the Wiregrass Resource Conservation and Development Council and city leaders in making these projects happen.

“I just see everybody — perhaps for the first time in a long time, working together, on the same page, wanting the same goals, pulling on that same rope and trying to do what we can for the good of all,” Kimbro said. “It’s a great place to be.”

The teamwork is already creating dividends. The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine earlier this year agreed to build a $1.2 million medical clinic in downtown Ashford after the city donated land to ACOM. The clinic will provide basic health care to patients with or without insurance and provide medical students a supervised learning environment.

“The doctors are going to help save lives,” Kimbro said. “That’s what Ashford is doing for this community. Our citizens are going to benefit from that.”

Kimbro said Ashford’s future is bright.

“It’s only 8 miles from the largest city in the Wiregrass, yet it’s here in the rural setting where you’re not suffering for anything,” Kimbro said. “It’s a great place to raise your family, property taxes are low, energy is reliable, and energy costs are low. I’ve lived other places, in big cities in Florida and Alabama, and I wouldn’t trade Ashford for any of them.”

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