The Montgomery YMCA and officials in the City of Millbrook and Elmore County recently unveiled plans for a new economic development project that will bring recreational tourism in addition to expanded services for YMCA’s members and visitors. The development will be adjacent to the Grandview Family YMCA in Millbrook which is part of the Montgomery YMCA. The announcement was made last week on the property located off Dismukes Road and Hwy. 14 in Millbrook.

What is being called the “Fields at 17 Springs” Multi-Sport Complex will include acreage recently purchased through a joint project between the City of Millbrook and the Elmore County Commission.

Working with the Laney and Stephens families, the agencies purchased just over 60 acres for a total cost of $1.9 million, which was split between Millbrook and the Elmore County Commission. The land purchase was the final step in being able to present a Master Plan that will see a portion of that land connected to the Grandview YMCA. While the YMCA will administer programs at 17 Springs, the facilities will be open to the public.

An estimate on total cost for the project is about $35 million over the next several years as the facility will be completed in three phases. However, that cost will be split between five agencies in Elmore County to include City of Millbrook, Elmore County Commission, the Elmore County Board of Education, the Elmore County Economic and Development Authority, and the Grandview YMCA.

Aside from that, the agencies plan to utilize grants to offset the expense, and have support from area legislators they will work hard to help with funding.

There have been years worth of vision and planning that went into this, way more than the official two and a half years the project has had a name. So much of this Master Plan includes the vision of Grandview YMCA Director Bill Myers, who began sharing his dream of what could be long before it became reality.

Almost two years ago, conversations between members and staff of the City of Millbrook, Grandview Family YMCA, Elmore County Board of Education and the Elmore County Commission began a journey that has led to today’s announcement. From the formation of a steering committee in the late summer of 2018 to develop a RFP to explore the opportunities and needs for the community to the inclusion the Elmore County Economic Development Authority (ECEDA) as a project partner to investigate the economic impact of recreational tourism on the area, the process has emboldened and fortified the partnership shared by the five entities.

The partnership, through its steering committee, vetted proposals and selected Dalhoff Thomas Design Studio in late 2018 to proceed with the market analysis portion of the proposal.

After community involvement, interviews, and a market study, the partnership moved forward with the phase of the proposal that would develop a master plan for the recommended improvements. Master plan concepts were presented to the partnership in December of 2019 and a final plan was adopted by the group in February of 2020.

During early March 2020 as COVID-19 began to increase its hold on the nation, the steering committee met with a local landowner, Jim Laney, to discuss the potential acquisition of a 54-acre tract that would aid in meeting the space needs of the master plan. With the help of Josh Holley of Mossy Oak Properties, a business colleague of Jim Laney, and while navigating the pandemic, an agreement was reached that was ultimately approved by the City of Millbrook and Elmore County Commission to purchase the needed acreage. A secondary parcel, owned by Robert Stephens and members of his family and a key parcel to induce additional economic development opportunities on the Alabama Highway 14 corridor, was acquired by the City and County in a similar fashion. The City and County approved a memorandum of understanding that established an equal partnership in the properties prior to the finalization of the land purchases which paves the way for leveraging of the local government resources.

In combination with 65 to 70 acre subset of the Grandview YMCA’s 189 acres of land, the recreational complex called “The Fields at Seventeen Springs” was born. The complex will be divided into three phases for construction: the Grandview Phase, the Fieldhouse Phase and the Champion Phase.

• The Grandview Phase will consist of: Five (5) full size, lighted rectangular sports fields

One (1) tennis complex with 6 lighted, regulation tennis courts and 3 pickle ball courts

A new lower pond that will be programmable for water activities

Sidewalks and parking to accommodate access to the facilities

Road access to Old Prattville Rd and AL 14

Site work for future multipurpose building, The Fieldhouse

• The Fieldhouse Phase will consist of: Construction of The Fieldhouse

Construction of four (4) diamond fields designed for softball and little league baseball capabilities

Sidewalks and parking to accommodate access to the facilities.

• The Champion Phase will consist of: Construction of a turf rectangular field with stadium seating and potential for a competitive track.

Construction of a championship diamond field and stadium seating.

“Over the years, multiple generations have played in the Seventeen Springs located on the property of the Grandview Family YMCA. The YMCA is thrilled that the same Seventeen Springs have now inspired a new and exciting recreation destination for our wonderful community. The YMCA is humbled to have the opportunity to manage a spectacular facility like the one we just unveiled with our wonderful partners,” YMCA CEO Gary Cobbs commented.

Millbrook Council President Michael Gay raved about the efforts of all involved. “The vision shown by our City Council, the County Commission, the Board of Education and the YMCA is something we will all look back on in the years to come and be inspired by. Today is another step in the process to improve the quality of our community on many different levels.”

ECEDA Chairman Art Faulkner stated, “This project touches so many aspects of economic development and will be the catalyst for recreational, retail and other projects for years to come. I am very thankful for the vision of our county and city leaders. Their vision and commitment to the quality of life of our youth, our citizens and our region is unprecedented. I am also very thankful for our private partners. This is a prime example of what can be accomplished through strong public, private and non-profit partnerships.

Mayor Al Kelley isn’t surprised by the willingness of the partners to pull together resources to develop such an idea and opportunity for the citizens of western Elmore County. “We have enjoyed a great partnership with the Elmore County Commission, Board of Education and the Grandview YMCA for years. To focus our efforts and leverage our resources like we are doing as a group will be a massive win for our community.”

Commission Chairman Troy Stubbs often refers to the five key pillars in a successful community. “The County Commission is focused on providing and improving infrastructure, public safety, healthcare, economic development opportunities, and quality of life enhancements. This partnership projects touches two of those pillars by providing a quality life enhancement paired with economic development opportunities.”

“We are excited that students will have access to a tennis facility that doesn’t exist countywide currently” commented Superintendent of Education Richard Dennis. “In addition, the investment being made by the partnership will provide additional opportunities for the students in our system. I can’t tell you how important partnerships are for us, and we greatly appreciate the YMCA, city and county for including us in this transformative project.”

Commissioner Bart Mercer who serves as the County liaison to ECEDA said, “The Commission has been focused on highlighting our tourism opportunities in the county. Recently the County Commission released a map of five projects across the county that focus on improving economic development opportunities while improving quality of life for our citizens. This is a shining example of one of those type projects.”

Brian Hodge of The Montgomery Independent contributed to this report.