While an official grand opening is unlikely until warmer weather returns, the Colbert Alloys Park in Alabama is open for business and ready for campers, according to a report in the Times Union, Florence.

What had once been a neglected campground in Colbert County owned by Reynolds Alloys employees and retirees was transformed into a new 40-acre riverside park where visitors can enjoy camping, picnicking, fishing and boating.

The county took control of the property in fall 2008 when it was donated by Reynolds Alloys retirees. The only caveat was that the property be used as a public park.

County Commissioner Rex Burleson, who spearheaded efforts to acquire the property and seek grant money to develop the park, said the grand opening will likely be in spring.

“Many Shoals residents have fond memories of attending functions and picnics at the park,” Burleson said. “We are grateful that we are able to carry on this tradition.”

Contractors have completed 20 crushed gravel pads for recreational vehicles as well as a combination restroom and shower building. There also are two concrete pads for handicapped campers.

The RV sites are near the entrance to the park and the caretaker’s residence. They’re placed on both sides of a road, 10 sites per side, with bath house/rest room building at the end of the road.

Each lighted campsite has electric, water and sewer connections.

“It’s ready to go if someone wants to come down and park their camper,” Burleson said.

Last week, contractors began construction of a metal building that will house equipment.

Burleson said $300,000-$350,000 has been spent upgrading the park, with about $80,000 coming from grants and appropriations. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs provided a $50,000 grant and the Colbert County Community Development Committee provided a $10,000 appropriation. The Northwest Alabama Resource Conservation and Development Council provided $5,000 and another $15,000 came from the sale of timber off the site, Burleson said.

Susann Hamlin, executive director of the Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau, said a special rate of $350 per month is available now through the end of February.

“The beauty of the winter landscape is exceptional right now, with ridges and ravines visible through the bare branches,” Hamlin said. “Seasonal birding is popular during the winter, especially since bald eagles now nest along the Tennessee River. We invite local campers to take advantage of this new opportunity to enjoy our natural settings.”

The park also offers primitive camping, a boat ramp with a dock, riverside fishing area and a covered pavilion.

Burleson said the pavilion will be the focus of a future renovation project. The county is seeking grant money to help defray the cost of upgrading the pavilion, which involves renovating the restrooms, upgrading electrical wiring, pressure washing and painting the pavilion. New picnic tables will be added.

Additional plans for the park include a walking trail and possibly a small stage for a natural amphitheater that exists in the park.

“We’re going to plant some trees out there,” Burleson said.

Jim Isom has been hired as Alloys Park’s full-time caretaker. He resides in a manufactured home that doubles as a park office.

Hamlin said the $350 monthly rate is available at the county’s popular Rose Trail Park in the Riverton-Rose Trail area of western Colbert County.

Rose Trail Park has 75 sites, developed and primitive. Recreational vehicle sites have full hookups, a dump station, walking trails, boat ramp, fishing piers and pavilion, restroom and bath house.

Burleson said half the sites at the two parks are reserved for long-term camping.

Campers can stay in a site for up to 50 weeks at the daily rate, but must move after staying the maximum number of days.