By Kaitlin Hoskins, News Editor
One of the largest tourist attractions in Etowah County will be undergoing a large renovation project soon, according to Gadsden Mayor Craig Ford.
Noccalula Falls Campground, which is home to primitive camping sites, RV camping sites, cabins and extensive walking trails, will soon undergo renovations that comes with an $11,376,500 price tag.
A bid for the project, which will coincide with a complete overhaul of the existing fire station located at Noccalula Falls Campground, was awarded to Lambert Contracting LLC at the Wednesday, Jan. 3 council meeting. The resolution was approved unanimously, but Councilmen Larry Avery and Chris Robinson were absent.
“This is a game changer for Gadsden,” Ford said at the Wednesday morning council meeting. “That does not just represent [city] District 7, that represents Districts 1 – 7. And not only that, it represents Etowah County and northeast Alabama. I think this bid was $2 million or $1 million lower than the next [lowest] bid. It’s a good company that we are familiar with. We’re excited about this.”
The project has an estimated completion time of just one year.
“It also involved getting a new fire station up at the Falls,” Ford explained. “We’re going to do it with a log cabin façade to make it look all the same.”
According to Ford, the fire department will continue to have a presence on the mountain, but the conditions for firefighters might not be as comfortable as they are used to.
“We’re going to have a temporary fire station behind [the current one],” Ford said. “Thanks to the firemen who have agreed to live basically, kind of like they’re in the army. But we’re going to take care of them. After a year everything will be done, and it will be one of the nicest fire stations we have.”
Ford told the council members present that there will be some traffic redirection and that the renovations will help with marketing the campground.
Events already lined up for the upcoming year at the site will still move forward.
“This is certainly exciting,” said Council President Kent Back. “We are the caretakers of a kind of one-of-a-kind piece of property. I think this is a move in the right direction to bolster those campgrounds and to even attract more of that money that comes from out of state. I think it’s a smart move.”
The funds for such a large project are coming from revenue brought in by some of those out of state travelers. According to Ford, the Christmas At The Falls event is paying for the renovations.
“We had the biggest year [at Christmas At The Falls] we’ve ever had,” Ford said. “This [project] will be paid for in 10 to 12 years.”