Work is complete on TOP Trails Environmental Center
by Chris Norwood


TALLADEGA COUNTY — Major construction on the TOP Trails Environmental Center is complete, with only a few adjustments needed to the overall structure. Furniture will start going in next week, and sewer service will, hopefully, be online the week after that.

Professional Service Group director Chuck Roberts, architect Tim Aho, contractor George Hicks, board chairman Tommy Spears, Rob Grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Commercial Affairs, chief financial officer Richard Naff and park employee Wes Pope and a representative from InSite engineering all toured the new facility Thursday afternoon, and were generally impressed.

Furniture will be purchased from state surplus, and will likely be picked up next week.

The front of the building will eventually be used as the exclusive point for guest entry and registration, but that will require some paving and moving the main gate first, Roberts said.

Primitive camping is already available around the igloos, and a bid for more modern campgrounds, including trailer hook-ups, will be opened next Friday. Construction time on those is estimated at 90 days.

Pope said he hoped to begin work on running sewer lines Monday, and that it might take about a week and a half, weather permitting, to get them in. The security and fire systems have also not been installed. The dump station will be located near the front of the park.

Roberts said he hoped to have the center open about the same time the new campgrounds are finished, in early summer.

In addition to guest registration, the building will also house three offices, a conference room and training center for first time off-road riders and men’s and women’s restrooms and showers. The large mechanical room in the back of the building houses two tankless hot water heaters.

There is also an employee break room with a kitchen and an employee restroom.

The floors are stained cement, which can be unpredictable but worked out well here, according to Hicks.

There is also a propane fireplace in the large front room.

Hicks also noted that this was a very rare construction job indeed that did not involve a single change order.

Construction began last summer, when the Carpenters for Christ donated time to get a frame set up. Work has continued fairly steadily since then as the weather permitted.

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© 2013