By Donna Thornton/News Editor
The Etowah County Commission backtracked on plans to sell the Hokes Bluff Ferry landing property – with good reason. After consulting with Hokes Bluff officials, the commission rescinded a resolution to sell the property and instead will turn it over to the City of Hokes Bluff.
Commission President Joey Statum and commissioner Kenny Tidmore said they received calls after taking action to sell the property. Giving control of the property to Hokes Bluff includes some stipulation: the city cannot sell the property for 20 years, and it has to remain open to the pubic.
“I thought this might be a joint effort between the commission and Hokes Bluff,” Tidmore said, to keep that property available for public use. Tidmore said it is being used now.
Statum said Hokes Bluff leaders agreed to the county’s stipulations. He said he thinks the city plans to improve the property, possibly adding picnic tables.
Hokes Bluff Mayor Gary W. Reeves said for now, the city will concentrate on cleaning up the area and keeping it clean.
“I’d like to thank the commission,” Reeves said. “It’s a big part of the heritage of Hokes Bluff. He said the ferry landing dates back to the 1800s. It holds a lot of memories for Hokes Bluff residents, including the mayor.
“I remember riding my bike down there. My mama would say ‘where have you been.’ I’d say ‘the store,’” Reeves recalled, without fooling his mother.
Even though the ferry had been closed for years, and earlier this year the ferry was removed and taken to south Alabama, Reeves said people still use the property to land and load boats, and for swimming.
“We’re not going to build a Taj Mahal or a hotel down there,” Reeves said.
The area has a pavilion with picnic tables at the top of a hillside that the mayor said is too steep to access by car. He said he had talked to Alabama Power representatives about grading down the hillside at the river’s bank, but was told the Federal Emergency Management Agency probably would oppose that.
“He said Alabama Power probably wouldn’t want us to do that either,” Reeves said.
Reeves said he hopes the city can get a group interested in helping with an improvement project at the ferry landing, such as the one the Girl Scouts did at the Mill Pond.
For now, Reeves said, the city’s priority will be getting the property cleaned up, which should inspire people who visit it to help keep it clean also.