A new towering landmark, Foley’s tallest structure at five stories, is now in place at the city’s downtown park.
With community leaders, city officials, children and other individuals looking on during different times of the day-long process, construction workers placed a 31-foot clock and bell tower on a concrete pedestal that will serve as the centerpiece to the city’s Centennial Plaza at Heritage Park.
“It’s history in the making,” said Foley Elementary Counselor Shannon Little, who was chaperoning a class of fourth-grade peer helpers. “I wanted them to be able to see this since this is going to be such a landmark.”
The memorial plaza, featuring the 52-foot tower, will be the center of the city’s celebration of its 100th anniversary of incorporation next year. A ceremony is planned at the site on Jan. 8.
The tower, purchased by the city for $167,900 in 2011 from the Cincinnati-based Verdin Co., features a 32-brass-bell carillon that can be programmed electronically to play thousands of songs. The nearly $600,000 project is expected to be completed in early December and will feature a landscaped plaza along with two-stage areas and benches.
Gulf Shores-based Sandalwood Development was awarded a $421,345 contract in April to build the plaza at the park, near the intersection of Ala. 59 and U.S. 98.
JaNay Dawson, who chaired the centennial committee’s finance board, said about $230,000 was raised for the joint project with the city.
When the campaign began, Dawson said it was the beginning of the economic downturn and she expected the effort to be laborious and, perhaps, a long process.
“But typical of the community of Foley and its members and longtime families, they were all so excited about this project and about the opportunity,” Dawson said. “They responded almost immediately and through the process of raising funds for the structure and the bells, they just remained steady until we got to the point where we raised our share.”
Looking at the tower being raised off the ground Thursday morning, Dawson said she wished everybody who contributed to the project — such as those who bought personalized brick pavers and cast stone pavers — could stand around it and marvel at what was accomplished.
“I can’t say how happy I am about it,” Dawson said. “And I’m so glad to have the kids are here because I think it’s important that we teach our children our history about the kind of people who worked through the hard times and are still here today, still working to keep the Foley community a safe and wonderful place with a small-town feel where everybody wants to raise their children.”
The process of raising the clock tower took most of the day but about 2 p.m. it was finally standing tall over the city. An hour later as the crane hoisted a small roof on top of the tower, plaza architect Sted McCullough and landscape designer Chad Watkins watched over the project like proud fathers.
“It’s exciting,” McCullough said. “A lot of people worked hard on this so it’s fun to see it happen. We’re just fortunate to be part of the team.”
Watkins agreed. “It’s been three solid years in the making,” he said. “It’s pretty nice to top it off the way the day’s been and it’s only going to keep getting better because we’re not done yet.”