Every day, a massive pile of dirt grows larger near Northport's Kentuck Park, one of the most visible signs of progress on three major recreational projects underway in the city.

As the Thread has previously reported, the city of Northport is developing a large-scale sports complex with nine baseball and softball fields between the Park and the Black Warrior River.

Work is also underway to build a 150-acre outdoor adventure and mountain biking park off Rose Boulevard, and to turn 11.7 acres on McFarland Boulevard into the city's own water park.

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The dirt pile represents more than just the foundation for future fields, though - city administrator Glenda Webb and city engineer Tera Tubbs told a group of business leaders that the mountain of earth is also a money-saving collaboration taking advantage of other projects already underway in the area.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

"With this infamous dirt pile, everybody keeps asking what in the world is going on," Tubbs told a group of business leaders visiting Northport City Hall with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama Wednesday. "We are stockpiling 140,000 cubic yards of dirt that we're getting from McWrights Ferry Road, and that's going to save us $1.5 million, close to two million dollars."

For the uninitiated, the McWright's Ferry Road extension is an ongoing $69 million project to dramatically improve vehicle traffic conditions and emergency vehicle response times north of the river around Rice Mine Road and New Watermelon Road.

Tubbs said the city was able to look at the master plans for the new sports complex at Kentuck Park and determined how much fill dirt they would need to create nine new fields.

When they settled on the total - 140,000 cubic yards - Webb and Tubbs reached out to see if Northport might buy some of the incredible amount of dirt being moved for the road work and managed to snag a great deal.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

"We're really taking advantage of the McWright's Ferry Road construction and getting that dirt at a very, very reduced rate, Tubbs said. "That's going to save us money in the long run and that's what the dirt pile is."

Now dump trucks are running daily, moving dirt from the road project and adding it to the pile load by load.

Tubbs and Webb said they hope the first phase of the Sports Complex is finished in the next two years - stockpiling dirt and other material will continue through the fall, and tree removal in the area is expected to run from the fall through the spring. Construction will begin in earnest in Spring 2024, and the city said they hope the new fields are open by 2025.

For more on all three recreation projects and other news from Northport as it develops, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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