The controversy over a proposal to build a park in southwest Dothan was front and center Thursday night during a public forum, held to discuss the location chosen for that park. And now it looks like this particular location may not be the only one city officials will be looking at.
Many of the people who attended the public forum live near Fortner Street, between Zion and Amherst Drives, where city officials want to build a 157 acre public park. But a majority of them don't want that park in their backyards.
"This is a residential area. The residents don't want noise pollution, and light pollution along with traffic," said concerned resident, Kimberly Pfieffner.
Jeff Plagenhoeff, another concerned resident said, "It will negatively impact the people living immediately adjacent to the area. There's no doubt that the sound and traffic will increase."
Other concerns include fears that property values around a newly built park could depreciate in time. But there are people that are not worried about any of these issues, and say a new park is welcomed in their neighborhood.
"I use Westgate and I would love to have a park across the street from where I live which is in Campbell Ridge... and I see no problem with it at all," said Larry Pressell.
City leaders agree that a new park would serve Dothan well, because they say that when it comes to making money, parks and recreation play a big role.
“We don't have a beach, we don't have a mountain and we don't have a river.... we're the sports capitol of the Southeast and we will continue to improve our strengths," said Dothan Mayor Pat Thomas.
But Mayor Thomas also agrees that the number of those against the placement of this southwest park outnumber those in favor of it. He says that because of that much opposition, it may be worth it to try and find other possible locations for the park that may cost less than the 2.5 million dollars being offered for the acquisition of this particular plot.
This willingness to look for other options is something residents in Southwest Dothan say they appreciate. But searching for other possible park locations means that it may be a while before another park is built inside the circle city.
Originally, the acquisition of this controversial piece of land was supposed to be voted on by city officials this week, but the issue was tabled for another two weeks. Mayor Thomas says a vote will still be held at that time, even though he believes that there will not be enough votes in favor of purchasing the property. That's why he has already asked officials with the leisure services department to begin looking for other land options.
Another public forum to discuss the new park plan will be held next Tuesday at the city commission chambers, sometime in the afternoon.