I was having a conversation with someone late last week regarding the direction that Wetumpka is heading as a city. We lamented how unfortunate it was that Wetumpka’s city council has had a less than stellar last year or so, but also expressed hope that the recent positive changes in the behavior of this administration were a sign of better times ahead. The person I was talking with has been involved in the inner workings and business of more than one municipality over the years, including Wetumpka, and has a wealth of experience and knowledge on such things. One thing she said kind of bothered me, though. She said that there are a handful of people who have at least a modicum of influence on some city officials who told her that they didn’t want Wetumpka to be another Prattville. I recoiled with surprise and asked her what was so wrong with Prattville. Neither of us could find any glaring faults with the Fountain City.
I am old enough to remember when a drive down Cobbs Ford Road would take you past not much more than one little gas station and a bunch of trees. I think it was the Jet Pep(I could be wrong on this point) and it is still there in the midst of a booming area of the city. My family and I live right in the middle of Wetumpka and what used to be a Friday night drive into Montgomery for dinner or a movie or maybe a little shopping has now often become a drive into Prattville for the same thing. Much of that part of Prattville is in Elmore County and I like the idea of spending my money in the county in which I live. I like the idea of spending my money in the city in which I live even more but Wetumpka doesn’t have the offerings of Prattville, at least not yet.
Prattville has landed more restaurants and retail stores of varying kinds than I can list here but a few spring immediately to mind because of my personal affinity for them. Bass Pro Shops is a place my kids LOVE to visit even though we’re not particularly outdoorsy. It’s like going to an amusement park for them. We often visit there after having dinner at McCallister’s or Zaxby’s or Moe’s. If we are craving a “sit-down” meal with a bit more atmosphere we can choose from Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, or Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse among many other choices. There’s Target, JC Penny, Belk and other stores for shopping. There’s a nice, clean 12-screen movie theater and we can drive just down the street to Bruster’s for ice cream before we head home.
A quick glance at Prattville’s website shows that they have a Department of Leisure Services which offers such diverse offerings for its citizens as a mime workshop, Bark in the Park for pet lovers, a fishing seminar, fitness classes, Kid’s Springfest, a teen self-defense class, and many other activities for everyone from children all the way up to senior adults. The city seems to want to provide plenty of activities to keep the people who live there busy if they choose to be.
How in the world could anyone find any negatives with these things? The only thing I can figure is that some folks would prefer that Wetumpka not get any bigger than it is. The fact is, at least as I see it, people are discovering Wetumpka and are moving to our area to enjoy the great quality of life that we have here and as great as that quality is, it can still get better! I think there is a need for more family oriented activities. Maybe an occasional outdoor family movie night down at Gold Star Park. Perhaps a concert of some sort every now and again. The courthouse steps and our downtown area is a great place for something like that. As I write this, I am sitting across the street from a beautiful civic center that in my opinion is a bit underutilized. My children loved the character breakfast the city sponsored there back in December and I think that city officials should try and do more things like that since we have such a great facility for such activities. My multi-talented wife has expressed a desire to start some sort of civic chorale or something along those lines. Stealing a line from Nike, I told her she should just do it! I think it’s a great idea and would draw a lot of interest. She is just the person to head up such an undertaking!
I’m not saying Wetumpka should try and be just like Prattville and I’m not saying that they are perfect. What works for them may not work for us. What I do know is that Prattville has made great strides over the years to be something more than just a bedroom community for Montgomery and they’ve been quite successful at it. I think Wetumpka has also moved in that direction and I hope that city officials and those who live in and around Wetumpka desire to see us continue to head in that direction. I love living here and it’s a great place to raise a family! Hopefully in the next few years we’ll be able to do many of the things right here in Wetumpka that we now have to go elsewhere to do. Wetumpka has great potential! We’re not called the City of Natural Beauty for nothing! I say we sell ourselves as such and do all we can to make life better for ourselves, our children, and generations to come! There’s no time like the present! On your marks, get set, GO…