ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.
Today’s guest blogger is David Dionne. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.
We are in the process of building Red Mountain Park into one of the finest adventure parks in America.
If you have never heard of the Park or still think we are near Vulcan’s statue then you need to stop and take a look around. You will find an urban signature Park developing right beneath your nose and it will change your life and reshape your understanding of Birmingham.
Red Mountain tells the story of Birmingham
In Birmingham our roots run deep in red soil. Hematite iron ore, coal and limestone combined to create not only pig iron and steel but a city and a nation. And every story in Birmingham starts at Red Mountain Park.
Red Mountain was named for the immense blanket of iron ore that projected from its crest and lay like a blanket on its south slope. That iron ore founded a city. That city rebuilt the South after the Civil War. It also supplied the raw materials need for America’s industrial surge in the late 1800’s and helped America win two World Wars.
Birmingham iron and steel were perfect for munitions and armor, truck frames and liberty ships, landing boats and aircraft engines. Birmingham businessmen reopened mines that been closed during the Depression as they saw war approaching, knowing that a nation at war needed iron and steel to prevail. Their foresight shortened a devastating war and may have saved millions of lives around the world.
We’re just getting started
After the mines closed in the 1960’s the land rested for several decades and faded into our distant memory. But the community was not finished with Red Mountain. In the last ten years visionaries and community leaders united to turn the overgrown property into a community park.
Money was donated, legislation was passed, the property was explored and plans were drawn. Red Mountain Park began to take shape in a deliberate systematic fashion. Today we are 1500 acres and growing and we are just getting started.
Zip lines, rope courses, climbing tower and more
At Red Mountain Park we are building a Park in the community while building the community into the Park. We are making no small plans. Our award-winning masterplan transforms old mine spoils and quarries into meadows, trails, playgrounds and picnic areas. Volunteers from throughout the community are donating time, treasure and talent to turn the vision into reality while saving the Park millions in construction costs.
Regions Bank associates rolled up their sleeves and built a picnic area in an old quarry in 5 days. The Hugh Kaul Foundation and the Susan Mott Webb Foundation gifted the zip lines, ropes courses and climbing tower in our Adventure Park. Scouts, youth groups, schools and volunteers have added the amazing Remy’s Dog Park, scenic overlooks, youth group camping, trails and rest areas.
You won’t be able to imagine life without our park
At Red Mountain Park we innovate and imagine new ways to solve vexing problems. Goats are systematically eating invasive plants and opening new land for restoration, renewal and recreation. Safe off-street parking and utilities in the Park are next. We are looking to the future and we can see a day when you cannot imagine life in Birmingham without this Park.
Get involved–we need you
But to reach that day we need you to get involved. Transform your city. Donate. Volunteer. Come and see why park and trail professionals everywhere are watching and learning how we build a Park in the community while building the Community into the Park.
A native of Maryland, David Dionne began his career in parks and trails in 1987 and spearheaded several projects along the East Coast, making him an ideal person to lead the startup of Red Mountain Park where he is Executive Director.
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David Sher is co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).