Category Archives: Commentary

More things to think about regardless of the I-20/59 conclusion

parkingunder2059Yesterday I decided to point to a specific city that’s actually tackled an inner-city interstate replacement and use it to ask a lot of questions about our situation here in Birmingham. I think talking through the answers will go a long way towards how ALDOT chooses to respond to critics of their current alternative to their original proposal to replace the existing decking as it exists.

Now, I drive by the BJCC and Uptown every day. As a result, I’ve had several other questions on my mind in recent weeks as it relates to I-20/59 and ALDOT’s proposed changes. I’m sure someone’s going to get to these at some point, but I wanted to go ahead and get these thoughts out there too just to see what bubbles up from readers:

Where do the cars currently parking under the interstate go? A lot of cars will be looking for new places to park as a result of the currently proposed configuration and the closing of 9th Ave. N. A survey of spaces located between 18th and 23rd Sts. N. underneath the interstate and along 9th suggests at least 625 (and as many as 660) vehicles will need to figure out where to go (special thanks to the RPCGB for helping to gather this info so quickly) once this project begins to move forward. This, provided new development continues to occur adjacent to the BJCC begs a follow-up question:

Where do we build a new parking lot (or do we even need to build a new one)? Before we jump on the “we need to build a new deck” bandwagon, it may help to pause and look at the bigger picture. This may be the spark needed to implement an expanded shuttle service downtown. It may even encourage folks to use the existing service provided by the BJCTA. The idea of enabling commuters and visitors to park in one of the lots located along Morris Avenue or any of the existing parking decks maintained by the Birmingham Parking Authority is intriguing. On-street parking options are plentiful, but not sufficient for those visiting the museum or the BJCC and unable to check their meters continuously throughout the day. A shuttle only works is if you can get folks out of their current need of having to park as close to their location as possible. It’s something possible to accomplish if you made it a more logical (read – cheaper) option to park in the decks than on the streets (the way many cities approach managing their parking situations to free up on-street spaces for shorter visits to stores).

Is it time for directional signage citywide? We seem to like tackling the creation of gateways for the city; the recent tree planting at the 31st St. N. exit suggests the corporate community is willing to help the city put its best foot forward as we see increased visitors not just this year, but arguably over the next five as we continue to commemorate milestones in the civil rights movement. Wayfinding, however, has been an issue the powers that be have been discussing for a long time. The Medical District is the most recent section of Birmingham to attempt to tackle it. Individual sites and attractions have tried as well as they tire of waiting for a comprehensive solution to surface.

If we accept that the ramps will go away regardless of what happens, we can also admit it will provide an excuse for visitors and locals alike to explore not just greater downtown, but the entire city (if only because it’s now a possible “accident” waiting to happen). It’s a chance to make sure all are aware of the options and experiences available to them. It could also make it easier for folks to navigate an already insane grid system.

Speaking of the grid…

Is it time to wave “bye-bye!” to the one-way streets downtown? One of the reasons often given for the existence of one-way streets in Birmingham’s city center is because of the ability to get into and out of downtown as quickly as possible via the surrounding highways. The elimination of the ramps providing access to these thoroughfares could be the impetus to finally carry out a major recommendation of the 2004 City Center Master Plan – converting many one-way streets back to two-way. It’d probably be most helpful along those streets most affected by the proposed interstate changes – thoroughfares like 5th Ave. N., 18th St., 22nd St. and Richard Arrington, Jr. Blvd. As many hope to see more restaurants and stores move downtown to serve the estimated 80,000+ that venture in every day, it sure would be nice to make them more visible from multiple directions. It could even encourage more foot traffic – thanks to increased “eyes on the road” for peace of mind.

These are questions not necessarily considered when looking at the situation on its surface, but they will be ones where answers are more critical to the period of during and after construction of whatever happens. Ironically, the very thing the proposal aims to get to pass through the city quickly – the car – is the one thing that will lead to significant decisions to be made about how downtown will continue to adapt and change as it enjoys a national and international close-up.

Remember MAPS?

Jefferson_County_Alabama_Incorporated_and_Unincorporated_areas_Birmingham_Highlighted.svgEarlier this week I shared via my personal social media accounts that it’d been fifteen years since my first visit to Birmingham, AL. Friends posed questions asking me if I’d noticed any changes, leading me to think about what had in that time span.

The more I did, the more I looked at the ability to point to specific accomplishments. I also thought about the issues still facing the metro region as the city begins the march towards its 150th birthday in 2021. Then I remembered a conversation I had during that 1998 visit about a yard sign I’d noticed about something called MAPS.

See, my visit to Birmingham for the tenth anniversary of City Stages in 1998 coincided with the beginning of a massive media blitz associated with the public referendum vote on the Metropolitan Area Projects Strategy legislation held on August 4 of that year. I’d try to explain it here, but the link provides a good summary of its goals. The vote was held, the initiative was defeated (except in, incidentally, the city of Birmingham), and life went on as always. Or did it?

When you start to look at the individual components of MAPS and the reasons we’ve been seeing all of this positive press, you begin to realize that time can be a valuable ally for those willing to wait, even for those who still have “The Future Can’t Wait” signs (perhaps playing off the title of a book birthed out of 1963 Birmingham). You also begin to realize just how much of our positive press can be attributed to those projects and what they encouraged.

There are some on a list maintained on BhamWiki of some of those projects listed in order of popularity based on a 1998 poll that seem to be a big reason for our recent success.

The McWane Science Center opened to the public just before the MAPS vote, meaning it was probably held up as an example of what the possibilities were for the region if the plan was approved. The major restoration of Vulcan and his home atop Red Mountain between 1999 and 2004 led to recognition by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the form of a 2006 Preservation Honor Award.

The Birmingham Zoo did see its expansion, adding the Trails of Africa nearly 40 years after the development of a master plan that had suggested such a change. Ruffner Mountain learned this week it is included in the city council’s version of the 2014 budget as more trails are added to its more than 1,000 acres. Railroad Park anchors an emerging spine of a greenway through the heart of greater downtown. We just reported this week about the upcoming addition of the largest dog park in the city at Red Mountain Park in the city’s western area. The Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System hopes to tie it all together and already sees shovels in the ground.

The regional transportation hub is now called an intermodal terminal and it’s set to begin its rise next to the tracks along Morris Avenue late this year while just yesterday both this site and reported on the first major change to the law governing the BJCTA in more than 40 years. They also unveiled new buses on Thursday.

The Alabama Theatre underwent a restoration in 1998 and the community leaders are working feverishly to raise funds to finally begin restoration of the Lyric Theatre across the street. While it may not be ready in time for its 100th anniversary next year, the sight of construction crews working within will be a welcome one for those working across the street to renovate the former home of Booker T. Washington Insurance Co. into residential units.

The swimming and aquatic center got to see a track and field component added to it, resulting in the Birmingham CrossPlex in Five Points West. This is the same facility that landed the city the NCAA Division II diving, swimming, track and field, and wrestling championships this spring. Uptown is the realization of the first phase of the expanded convention center complex and entertainment district (though as Kyle Whitmire reported Thursday for, currently proposed changes to I-20/59 threaten those plans).

The 1% sales tax increase? It’s been implemented in piecemeal throughout the region in recent years (most notably – and controversially – via former mayor Larry Langford’s Birmingham Economic and Community Revitalization Ordinance in 2007, itself a mini-version of MAPS) as the need for the funding source has been realized. It is not the best approach towards raising the capital, but perhaps recent developments like the availability of a state historic tax credit for residential projects will help us see historic homes restored and occupied, leading to more property taxes being collected from a large population.

Yes, we have lost businesses and things haven’t always gone the city’s way. There is still much to be done in our outlying neighborhoods and our city center, but there are signs of progress that don’t necessarily involve waiting for elected officials to lead the way. Parking meters don’t work, sidewalks don’t exist, and lights are not always glowing at night. They must be dealt with, and soon. However, if we only dwell on those things, we’ll miss out on what has happened. Community gardens serving food deserts, signs of reinvestment in neighborhoods some wrote off. There are signs of belief in the future of the city – something I didn’t necessarily see on display in large amounts during that first visit or when I first relocated nine years ago.

Actual maps are a funny thing. They can tell you where you need to go, but they won’t always tell you about obstacles (or websites) in the way.

Most Sundays I write down the word “patience” on a prayer request card at church because I think I don’t have enough. I’d argue sometimes we don’t know what we have until it sneaks up on us – like an All-America City that still has issues to tackle, but one that’s come a long way from where it thought it would be fifteen years ago.

Just imagine if MAPS had passed? Scary, isn’t it? But we’ve still got a road map to follow, so let’s get to it. That is what’s changed – the increase in the belief in the perpetual promise of the city and the region.

André Natta is the stationmaster for

Support a plan to move Birmingham forward

Signing inThere is sure to be a rather large crowd sitting in City Council chambers on the third floor of Birmingham’s City Hall starting at 6 p.m. tonight (April 4) – at least, that’s the image I have in my mind.

It will not be for a council meeting, though the eventual result will have a significant impact on the future of Birmingham, AL. It’s the scheduled public hearing being held by the Birmingham Planning Commission focusing on the working draft of the city’s new comprehensive plan. It’s a process many hope will lead to adoption of the first such plan in the city’s history.

Before someone begins to split hairs about that last sentence, several plans have been commissioned in recent years, including one for the region ( a la the former Region 2020), an update focused on the city center, and individual commercial revitalization and residential districts. A previous comprehensive plan process was undertaken in 1961, getting to the draft process. Parts were implemented, but it was never fully adopted. This is a chance to truly take a holistic look at the city and its future.

The current draft document was revealed on March 4 and has been available since at City Hall, Birmingham Public Library branches and online for review.

I had the privilege of serving on the plan’s steering committee for the last 18 months as we tried to make sure everyone’s interests were heard and addressed. I’d say we were pretty successful considering there were ten community meetings, two public forums (including this one), three open houses, and fifty small group gatherings that crisscrossed the city. The initial public comment period associated with the process has taken place over the last month, with many of those comments and concerns scheduled to be addressed this evening.

Birmingham has gained a significant amount of media attention in recent months, partially due to the ongoing commemoration of the events of 1963. The most recent accolade is courtesy of Forbes Magazine; the publication included the city in a list of downtowns to watch. Based on some of the buzz online, the path this document takes moving forward will keep the spotlight on Birmingham as we wait to see if we’re willing to adopt it.

Is it a perfect plan? No – anyone who suggests there is such a thing really doesn’t understand its true function. It provides a framework city officials, the private sector, and the general public can use to move the city forward. The message we are sharing with ourselves and the world this year is one of progress and advancement. This plan lets us show we’re serious about that message.

It is one that contains the voices of the city’s future, ones we need to be listening to as it is their home we’re planning and not ours. It’s those conversations I’m looking to as drivers of this site’s focus in the coming months and years.

Adoption and passage of a comprehensive plan matters as much as any other effort currently underway in this city. It could even mean more as it demonstrates to interested parties a commitment to consistently improving the city. I’m excited about the conversations this document will and needs to encourage about the future of Birmingham and what it will take to get there – conversations many of us look forward to covering in the future.

If you’ve got some time this evening, stop by City Hall and make sure your voice continues to be heard. We owe it to the future of the city to make sure it’s the true voice of the city, its general population, and not those fearful of change, that’s heard.

André Natta is the stationmaster for

Use the park

2013-03-18 14.05.02

Saying Birmingham is angry and frustrated with the senseless shooting and death of 15 year old Jarmaine Walton at Railroad Park on Sunday evening would be an understatement. Edward Bowser captured the opinions of many with a piece he shared on on Tuesday. It’s also received a great deal of comments demonstrating the complacency and resignation that’s long plagued this region.

There are at least two public displays of solidarity planned in the coming weeks as I write this – one this Saturday, March 23, and another on March 30. I’m planning on heading out there for at least one of them, weather and schedule permitting. It will no doubt serve as proof Birmingham will not be held hostage by this killing as it continues to show progress. Or does it?

After these larger events are over, there’s one more way you can show everyone how important the city is to you. You can use the park.

Use all of Birmingham’s parks – as often as you can.

Monday afternoon, I hung out at Railroad Park just before the rain storms blew through town. Some have commented on what I chose to post as my status at the time, “Sometimes to be the change, you’ve just got to show up.” It’s a rather simple approach, but a very effective one.

It’s time to show up, Birmingham – and to keep doing it. The folks in the picture up above did.

Public spaces are our community’s living rooms, places where we can gather together, relax, enjoy, and learn. If we want to continue to call Railroad Park “Birmingham’s Living Room,” we need to continue to do all of those things for months and years to come. There needs to be people out in and around the park for planned events in April like the Darter Festival, Opening Night across the street at Regions Field, and the park’s ongoing Thursday evening parties. It’ll be good practice for enjoying (and influencing) future development around the park. We as a community must also consider being at Railroad Park for breakfast meetings, during our lunch breaks, and perhaps an after work lap or two to walk or run off our stress.

The same should be considered at parks throughout the city, including McLendon (that’s the one Legion Field is located within), Ensley, McAlpine, East Lake, and Avondale. It is not the time to place everything at the feet of our city officials, though we are in need of their leadership at this time. We cannot use activism to solve all of our issues, but if “the people are the city” perhaps the people need to remind those wanting to control Birmingham with fear it’s no longer an option.

Does it needs to be an election year issue?  We are, after all, about to have what could be the most transforming municipal election in recent memory due to the mayor, council, and school board seats all being up for grabs at the same time.

Enjoying one of our many parks on a weekday evening or a sunny weekend afternoon is a powerful form of silent protests against violence.

Railroad Park has long been seen as one of the symbols of the new Birmingham, one unified as it attempts to redefine what it means to be a New South city. The best act of defiance in this instance is one of continued optimistic realism, sprinkled with the promise of new developments in the area surrounding the park.

André Natta is the stationmaster for

Suggestions for UAB's most important signing to date

UAB logoNational Signing Day had many football fans in metro Birmingham glued to their second and third screens attempting to keep up with recruiting efforts at Alabama and Auburn and their levels of effectiveness. It was refreshing to see expanded coverage of what was happening at our metro area schools as well, most notably UAB’s football team. The recruiting class appears to have been a good one for Garrick McGee & Company. More on that later…

I’ve been waiting to hear about another signing at UAB – one capable of being much more significant for the future of the institution and the city it calls home.

All indications point to the next president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham being named before close of business Friday (perhaps even sooner). The permanent post has been vacant since Carol Garrison’s unexpected departure in mid-August.

DrRayWattsSrMDRecent reports indicate the search committee has recommended Dr. Ray Watts (right), the dean of the school of medicine, to fill the position. Watts was mentioned as a potential candidate back in August in a report by the university’s student newspaper, Kaleidoscope. Some originally suggesting he would be offered the interim position as the search process began – a position Richard Marchase was eventually named to fill.

Regardless of who fills the position, its one of the few in the region with the power to truly transform and shape Birmingham and its future. UAB is the largest employer in the metro area and one of the largest in the state. I’ve heard it referred to as the “University that ate Birmingham,” and while it hasn’t always been viewed as thoughtful in its efforts to expand offerings for its student body, the perception of its approach and interaction with greater Birmingham has seen improvement in recent years.

Having lived through a transformation of another city by an institution of higher learning in Georgia, I’ve got some crazy ideas about how the next president might use his or her bully pulpit – one not used as much as it could be – at least publicly:

Make it easier for faculty and staff to live closer to campus

UAB could earn some valuable allies (particularly in the preservation arena) if it were to do something like purchase several single family homes in neighborhoods like Titusville and Fountain Heights and fix them up for use by faculty and staff. Yes, the president’s house sits up atop Red Mountain (with a pretty nice view of the city), but the effect of several homes in an area fairly close to the university means you systematically raise the focus area’s median income level – in addition to the property values. It would enable increased patrol coverage in the area as well as you’d have not only Birmingham but UAB police cars keeping an eye on things, helping with perception while dealing with reality.

It doesn’t necessarily need to be adjacent to the current campus; it could be a move to help define where and what UAB could be capable of doing and becoming in the future. Plus, it makes the work of the city’s office of economic development and REV Birmingham a little easier when you can demonstrate even more investment into the area surrounding the university.

About that football stadium…

rendering of proposed UAB stadiumWithin moments of UAT winning its most recent BCS Championship, The Terminal’s Twitter account gained a new follower – one associated with efforts still underway to build a football stadium for the Blazers. While the National Signing Day efforts were successful, it was reported some did not consider the football program due to the lack of facilities. That said, I believe a renovated Legion Field would be more helpful to the entire city than a football facility adjacent to UAB’s current campus footprint.

The thing that’s never mentioned when talking about whether or not to improve The Old Gray Lady is its surrounding area. A recent expansion by Princeton Baptist Medical Center and a resurgent Birmingham Southern College shouldn’t be overlooked. We also can’t forget efforts underway to convert McCoy United Methodist Church into the Alabama Gospel Center. Once you factor in improvements proposed by the Regional Planning Commission involving the Bessemer Super Highway, a deliberate re-imagining of the property immediately adjacent to Legion Field is not only tempting, but necessary. It also brings College Hills, Graymont, and Smithfield into the conversation in terms of that first suggestion up above.

Now that I’ve finally shared those thoughts, whatever becomes of the effort to get a stadium for UAB, on or off-campus, the university president should be able to support that plan publicly – without fear of consequences.

We seem to have a habit of wanting to apply a patch to a problem that really needs some significant amount of holistic focus and reinvestment. An institution like a UAB that will undoubtedly need to continue to expand as its enrollment continues to rise well above 18,000 may not be able to continue to rely on Southside properties being available for purposes of expansion. The recent string of announced projects associated with the success of Railroad Park and the pending completion of Regions Field may only be the beginning of the long-awaited “return” of Birmingham. Students and faculty will need somewhere to live that doesn’t involve them navigating U.S. Highway 280 during rush hour. Such an approach would force other issues to be looked at in ways that benefit the entire city. Tackling solutions to issues like reliable mass transit and retail options is useful for those living nearby as well. The same issues get tackled more effectively if it’s realized the university is a major part of the community regardless of where growth takes it – and it acts accordingly.

It may even encourage us to…

Dream bigger dreams.

This one encapsulates the previous two suggestions and asks the new office holder to take founding UAB president Joseph Volker’s words to heart:

“We would do Birmingham a great disservice if we dreamed too-little dreams.”

We do not know what the future holds for Birmingham or UAB. We can recognize, however, the power we all have in moving the city forward without the need to wait for someone else to take the lead. The new president of UAB can model what’s possible, perhaps without fear of stepping on toes (well, hopefully). He or she could also encourage others to take advantage of their spheres of influence to see what the potential is for the city and not immediately look at the way things are as an excuse not to dream.

Well, those are mine. What advice or persuasive arguments would you offer to the incoming president of UAB? Let us know in the comments.

André Natta is the stationmaster for

Maybe Larry was on to something…

Larry Langford - acnatta/FlickrIt’s been awhile since I’ve written about former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford. It’s been so long I had to add his name to my spell-check list again. It’s a lot longer than the last time he was mentioned in the press.  This summer we learned he’d been moved to a prison medical facility in Lexington, KY for undisclosed reasons. I for one hope he’s doing well.

Whenever someone brings up Langford’s name, there’s normally some snickering about several of his proposals and their effects on the city and surrounding community. There is none that draws giggling and snark quicker than his attempt to bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

If you approach it on face value, it didn’t make sense at all – at least it shouldn’t have. When it was presented in 2008, I suggested folks consider looking at it as a blueprint to measure his effectiveness as mayor. I got comments and emails from visitors to the site suggesting it was a noble interpretation, but the idea was still unrealistic.

I’ve left the notion alone now for the last 4+ years, thinking I may have missed something. Then, as I sat at my desk towards the end of last year, starting to shift my thoughts towards the city’s efforts to recognize what happened in 1963, it hit me. I’d found a new way to look at Langford’s proposals – one many wouldn’t want to acknowledge or admit to even if pressed. It was still compelling.

Langford’s proposals were his way of trying to get the city ready for 2013… and 2021.

Another look at Langford’s list of ideas

There is an entry dedicated to the list of initiatives proposed by Larry Langford throughout his political career maintained over on Bhamwiki. The collections of suggestions made during his time as mayor is extensive (and exhausting for some), but reviewed through the lens of getting a city ready for its international close-up, it is impressive.

Some, like the proposal to demolish the Birmingham Board of Education headquarters across from Linn Park to allow for redevelopment, sounded crazy, but now it appears as though it’ll happen now. Others, like suggesting we build fountains and plazas in Pratt City, Five Points West and downtown, seemed too far out there.

Now we get to the 2020 Olympics bid.

No, I’m not saying we had a chance, but it goes back to my original point from the June 2008 piece – it was a goal to place in front of the city. It was the ultimate target. It intrigued me as the math began to make sense. The proposal would have to go in during 2008, getting us media attention (which it did). There would have to be significant progress made on the infrastructure by late 2012/early 2013 at the latest, regardless of the situation in which Langford found himself. This would mean the city would be “ready” by 2013 – the moment Birmingham would once again be in the international spotlight for not just one, but two reasons.

It would provide a different angle for visiting journalists and bloggers to take on the city; it becomes less an issue of what we’re commemorating and more of where we are and where the city is going. It would also provide some buzz on which you could build on and realize several significant changes to the city for 2020, when journalists would undoubtedly come back to see if we’d taken advantage of those necessary improvements.

By the way, those improvements would have us ready for the following year, 2021. The significance of that year? It’s the 150th anniversary of the founding of Birmingham, AL.

I’m not asking you to anoint Langford a saint. I’m trying to demonstrate the madness had a method, albeit a haphazard one. It led to several of the things we’ll be celebrating and recognizing this year:

He asked us to do something, even though we didn’t necessarily want to play along. He will go down as a polarizing figure in Birmingham history, but he’ll also have a place in the hearts of some who’ve started to connect the insanity of the dots – as insane as they may be.

He even ended up scoring one of those proposed fountains downtown – over at our new Uptown entertainment district. The first groundbreaking – yeah, he was there, too.

André Natta is the stationmaster for

The Cola Wars via Birmingham's billboards

Two North Twentieth through the walls at Regions Field.Yes, this is a photo of construction at Regions Field along the first base wall, taken early Friday morning. They’re doing an incredible job considering they’ve got approximately 120 days until Opening Day.

It’s not so much the construction efforts I was trying to capture but the potential view for those in attendance. It’s something to think about as you take your seats in April.

I’ll explain…

I probably wouldn’t have paid attention to it if I hadn’t been reminded about a story filed by Joseph Bryant for The Birmingham News this past June. That’d be when he wrote about the partnership between the City of Birmingham and Birmingham Coca-Cola Bottling Co. – the one that provides the largest privately-held Coca-Cola bottling company in the country exclusive serving rights at the Crossplex and Legion Field.

Why is this important?

Well, consider the fact that Regions Field will be a city-controlled facility. This would lead many to logically conclude that Coca-Cola will get exclusive serving rights inside the new facility. It also means that you’ll more than likely see signage reflecting this throughout.

A photo shared on Facebook via the Barons’ fan page on Tuesday starts to illustrate a couple of things. You can make out the iconic sign atop Two North Twentieth at the far right edge of said photo. This would be the same sign that’s been before the city’s Design Review Committee on three separate occasions in the last two months (an account of the most recent appearance is available over on Magic City Post). Here’s one of the most recent proposals:

The company responsible for managing the property, Harbert Realty Services, would like to lease it as a large static billboard space to Buffalo Rock for an extended period of time while they raise the funds needed to replace it with a modern LED display. The proposed sign wouldn’t reference Buffalo Rock however; it would contain the iconic Pepsi logo. You’d be able to see it from Malfunction Junction, Red Mountain Expressway, and potentially from inside Regions Field if you’re sitting along the first base line.

Let’s take a moment to think about the number of Coca-Cola billboards currently located in downtown Birmingham. There are four of them – two located along I-20; one located along I-65 (visible as you’re traveling northbound); another located along Red Mountain Expressway as you pass the 2nd Ave. N. exit ramp.

Now how many are associated with Buffalo Rock products? One – located along Red Mountain Expressway before you pass under Highland Avenue on Southside heading northbound. Incidentally, if you didn’t know that Dr. Pepper is distributed by Buffalo Rock, you do now, as it’s the brand featured on this sign.

I won’t even get into the huge Coca-Cola sign most travelers see as they take-off and land at the airport… (It is pretty cool though.)

Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with iconic signs sitting outside of ballparks. The most well-known is the one Citgo continues to maintain just outside of Fenway Park in Boston. There is, however, a precedent that suggests the proposed sign here should not be approved as presented. I’m not the only one taking that position either.

It may also be a pure coincidence that there’s been three attempts to get some version of a Pepsi billboard approved by the committee.

Might it not make more sense to use the opportunity to demonstrate your significance as a corporate leader by asking for a display that celebrates the history of our city? Buffalo Rock used to have a very prominent sign in the City Center when it was located within its boundaries. It just happened to reference the flagship product. Maybe it could recognize or inspire us to truly look 50 years forward as visitors from around the world gather in Birmingham not just next year but throughout the next five years?

There’s also the issue of the cost of replacement which depending on which available online calculator you use; this one suggests it can get costly, quick.

It’s also not as if the city hasn’t been trying to reduce the number of billboards in the city. It was stated during a recent Design Review Committee meeting that significant progress had been made – and that the sign atop Two North Twentieth has been grandfathered in under current ordinances.

One hopes that maybe they’ll get the message – and that it won’t have to be posted onto a billboard first in order for them to notice.

André Natta is the stationmaster for