During the recent recession, Birmingham began to explore innovative ways of improving economic conditions and the quality of life through public/private partnerships.
A land-swap between the City of Birmingham and the University of Alabama Birmingham paved the way for a $64 million project to build Regions Field for the Birmingham Barons, a minor league baseball team. A new, 19-acre Railroad Park downtown received an Open Space Award from the Urban Land Institute.
Other projects include a $400 million expansion for Children’s of Alabama, an international hospital, and a revival of the city’s historic Theater District. The Avondale neighborhood is reversing a declining trend with the help of a downtown economic development group, Avondale Brewery, residents, and federal stimulus funding.
Less than a mile away, the impoverished neighborhood of Woodlawn has seen development of a different kind—an $11 million investment from the YWCA of Central Alabama to build a six-family shelter and renovate 58 nearby apartments. YWCA has also brought a Family Resource Center and health, education, and employment services to the community......
Birmingham’s Green Space and Livability Projects
In 2010, the University of Alabama Birmingham released a study estimating that the health savings of green spaces in Jefferson County surpassed $43 million. The year 2006 saw a new fundraising campaign to benefit three local private parks, spearheaded by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and Region 2020. By 2008, $15 million had been successfully secured through private donations.
Red Mountain Park came to into being through one of the largest land swap agreements in Alabama history, and Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve expanded to serve more than 12,000 students per year with education programs. The Centers for Disease Control provided a substantial grant to the Fresh Water Land Trust (FWLT) to develop a greenway master plan for the area.
FWLT rose to the occasion, mustering more than 3,000 participants to provide input through 45 stakeholder meetings. Once the master plan was complete, FWLT worked with numerous local government agencies to seek $10 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. TIGER funds will help create a regional multi-modal street network that is accessible and safe for all users, especially pedestrians and cyclists.
Birmingham’s Veteran's Initiatives
The City of Birmingham has a rich history and appreciation for members of the armed services, and it is able to salute its veterans in three distinguished ways. The first is Birmingham’s National Veteran’s Day, a tradition stretching back to 1947, seven years before the U.S. Congress authorized the first official observance of the national holiday. In Birmingham, Veteran’s Day involves not only elaborate parades but also a host of events coordinated by the city and the National Veteran’s Day in Birmingham planning committee.
For example, every year a dinner is held in honor of the recipient of the city’s National Veteran’s Award, given to the veteran who made the greatest contribution to further the patriotic interest of veterans and veteran organizations. A second example is the Operation Lima Foxtrot initiative started by The Lakeshore Foundation in 2006. The comprehensive program was designed to help severely injured U.S. service men and women regain active, healthy, and independent lives. Since its inception, more than 1,800 armed forces members, veterans, and family members have traveled to greater Birmingham from 36 states to participate in Lakeshore’s residential sports and recreation camps, ongoing fitness and health promotion programs, and other transition services.
Finally, nestled in the foothills of Birmingham’s woodlands is the Alabama Veteran’s Memorial Park. The park includes a Memorial walkway that outlines historic events from the 20th and 21st centuries as well as recognizes Alabama’s military veterans. The three programs, though separate, collectively remind the citizens of Birmingham of the courage, dedication, and sacrifices veterans and their families have rendered to cause of freedom.