As Northport Community Center celebrates 70 years, its future remains uncertain
By WVUA23 News Reporter Avery Lake
Northport Community Center this weekend celebrated its 70th anniversary, with revelers sharing plenty of memories alongside cake and ice cream. But this milestone may well be the center’s last, as the city is looking at selling the land upon which it sits to a developer who’s interested in installing restaurants and retail.
The future of the center, located in a prime spot just off Lurleen B. Wallace Boulevard where drivers make their way from Northport over the bridge into Tuscaloosa, remains up in the air but many residents consider the potential sale as done a deal as any.
This month, Northport City Council repealed a 1993 law requiring unanimous council and the mayor’s approval for the sale of any recreation-focused city property. The council also authorized a six-month due diligence period exploring the sale of the center and its surrounding property.
As the city moves forward with its plans, many residents remain vocal in their opposition, saying the park and community center are well-loved, drawing hundreds of residents and visitors on the regular for events including family reunions, square dancing and parties.
Northport Community Center’s official opening date was June 22, 1953. It came a month late, but the Friends of Historic Northport group wasn’t about to let that milestone pass without a proper celebration.
Chuck Gerdau from Friends of Historic Northport said the center’s history is what makes it deserving of recognition.
“It was built in 1953, but actually the whole plans for the park and the community center were started several years before that,” he said. “It took time to raise the money and get everything put together.”
Unrelated to the potential sale, Friends of Historic Northport is moving the Umbria schoolhouse near the center to Shirley Place in downtown Northport. That move has been moved back several times because of weather issues, but Gerdau said their goal is getting it where it’s going Tuesday night.