As we look forward to the new year and all that’s planned for 2024, we asked the Alabaster City Council to reflect on the year that was and talk about what they’re most looking forward to. Councilors were asked about the things they were most proud of from 2023, project or events they were looking forward to in 2024 and what they most wanted to accomplish, and any New Year’s Resolutions or exciting personal happenings planned for 2024.
Sophie Martin, Ward 1
2023 has been a year of tremendous success for our city—just about everywhere you look you’ll see progress. It was great to see the doors open to our new police department and the completion of Highway 119. For Ward 1, I’m extremely proud of the complete redo and repaving of Alabaster Boulevard, which was very much needed and long overdue. I truly appreciate the council and mayor for their support with making this project happen. This has resulted in improved safety and better driving conditions for the hundreds of people who use Alabaster Boulevard daily. These projects had their challenges and required a lot of patience, but in the end, they were all worth the wait.
2024 is going to be another year of remarkable progress for Alabaster. I look forward to finalizing the building plans for our new amphitheater and recreation center, which also include our new library. We are also anticipating the District 31 groundbreaking in the very near future. This will make additional shopping and restaurants options available to residents and visitors while changing the face of our city.
For 2024, I plan on continuing to partner with the county to get sidewalks along Highway 11 in Ward 1. This would improve the safety for residents who walk along Highway 11 to get to school, work, grocery stores, physician offices, and other needed facilities.
It is truly an honor to serve our city and Ward 1. I am privileged to work alongside my fellow councilmembers and our mayor who truly care about our city and the people who live here. I look forward to another year of accomplishment and progress—it is an exciting time to live in Alabaster!
Rick Ellis, Ward 2
The top three things that I am most proud of are the opening of Patriots Park, the completion and opening of the new Police Station, and the construction/renovation of Larry Simmons Stadium, Jim Peanut Davenport Field, and Veteran’s Park. I am looking forward to the completion of the above-mentioned Park renovations and (hopefully) the beginning of construction on the new Library/Rec Center.
This year, I want my focus on continuing to be a part of this council and doing my part to move the city forward and make things better for the residents. My daughter, Nora, will be graduating from high school this year. Not that we are excited about her going off to college, but it is an exciting time for her, and we are very proud of her.
Stacy Rakestraw, Ward 3
2023 was a very exciting year in the city. Seeing Patriots Park get developed and open to the public was very exciting. The residents and others around this area have flocked to the new park for Pickleball and basketball, celebrating loved ones at the pavilions, and using the stage to host a Wednesday Youth Ministry service with live music.
I am sure on all of our lists, the move in to the new Alabaster Police Department is complete. The officers and administration have loved the space. I was so excited to get them out of the old building. Another highlight I am proud of is the new right-turn lane on CR 17 at Fox Valley. The city also hired a traffic consultant to study the traffic at Thompson, Navajo Hills, and 1st Ave. The results will be in soon and reviewed to plan how to improve the traffic in this area in early 2024. Grants were approved to begin the application process for help with the Buck Creek Trail connection, as well as a receipt of a grant for $15,000 from Norfolk Southern to help purchase signage that notifies the public about blocked crossings.
In 2024, I look forward to seeing more progress around the city and more projects completed. The former TIS and BOE building will be vacated, and we will begin work on the new recreation center and library. Also, the addition to the senior center and a new amphitheater on the green space at City Hall.
This year, I will continue to meet residents, build relationships, and enjoy the friendships with those I have made over the years as a city councilor. This is one of the biggest joys of serving our city, the residents in Ward 3, or any others in our city who have questions or need help. Thank you for choosing to live in Alabaster.
Greg Farrell, Ward 4
The accomplishments that I am most proud of for 2023 are the completion and opening of the new headquarters for the Police Department. This was one of the goals that I wanted to see accomplished when I ran for Council. Another is the road projects within the City. The opening of Highway 119 phase one and securing the funds and commitments for phase two. The reconstruction of Alabaster Boulevard and the additional turn lanes and making the turn lanes longer on Highway 31 from I-65 to Highway 119. The city is taking great strides in helping with traffic flow with the city.
Projects that I am looking forward to for 2024 that will keep us busy are the compilation of major upgrades, improvements, and additions to several of our parks: Larry Simmons Stadium, Peanut Davenport Field, Veterans Park, and Patriots Park. The addition of the Amphitheater on the green between City Hall and the Senior Center and the Senior Center expansion as well. Hopefully the city will award the bid for the new Recreation Center and Library before the end on 2024. These two projects will enhance our City in providing state-of-the-art facilities for citizens to enjoy in the future.
We will work hard to provide the necessary resources to the Fire Department as they begin providing Ambulance Transport Services to our citizens. We feel that by taking on this service, the department can provide a better quality of service to the citizens. This service could not happen without the partnership with Shelby County. It will take all of 2024 to get the service ready to go on line with a projected start in January 2025.
The City is hopeful of the potential development of District 31 and the Shoppes of District 31. This development will enhance the shopping experience for our community. All that has been accomplished and what is planned for the City could not have happened without the vision and leadership of the Mayor and his administration. I am honored and humbled to be a part of that vision. These projects will provide our citizens with the opportunity to enjoy various experiences without having to go outside of Alabaster.
Jamie Cole, Ward 5
As difficult as it was to make a decision for a sales tax increase, it has led to the establishment of an ambulance service that will better serve our residents. I saw this as essential and was proud to cast a vote. We are also on track with some new economic development in partnership with some incredible and desirable brands and establishments. 2024 is going to be a banner year for new, smart, and revenue-generating development in Alabaster.
This is an incredible team with a lot of expertise across the board. I’m proud to claim the mantle of the “artsy” type on the council and work with our city manager, mayor, and employees on the new amphitheater project that will provide our creative residents with a new venue and help draw more arts and cultural events to the city. I can’t wait to break ground on that amphitheater!
2024 marks my family’s 25th year in Alabaster. Working and serving here has been a great joy of our lives. I think when people make resolutions, they tend to be about change; we are just looking forward to more of the same! Love it here and love serving.
Zach Zahariadis, Ward 6
Some of my favorite accomplishments as a city this year are the creation of Patriots Park, the renovations and upgrades to Veterans Park, and the widening of Highway 119. I have lived in Alabaster for 13 years and used to live on the North side of town. I think Patriots Park will continue to be a staple for that area! The Veterans Park improvements are close to my heart as well. I have been a youth athletics coach here for eight years, and it is beautiful to see how amazing our facilities are becoming for our residents and youth. I am a big proponent of kids and adults spending as much time outside as they can, and having Veterans Park with the coming amenities—new baseball/softball fields—will help get more people outside. And the addition of pickleball courts for the south side of town will also be a huge benefit! And the Highway 119 widening, finally!! I have lived in Ward 6 for seven years now. It has been amazing to see the difference the expansion has made already! I know it took some time, but I am thankful to be a part of the project!
In 2024, I am excited to see the future Rec Center/Library start to take shape. I think once we get groundbreaking underway, dirt starts moving, that will excite the residents and give them a vision of growth. I also am excited to see the work start on the long-anticipated District 31! The developer brought many great ideas and final plans to the council in 2023 and knowing that the development is on the horizon is very exciting. Another exciting project starting in 2024 is the Senior Center expansion and Amphitheater development. I think when the ball gets rolling on those projects, that will create such an amazing venue and atmosphere for our city!
Personally this year, I want to make a strong effort to engage with more people in our community. I want to develop a relationship with Ward 6 residents so they know who I am, what I stand for, and develop a trust in me as their servant leader. I have spent a lot of time since joining the team focusing more on how the City Council operates and learning the ins and outs of city government. I think it is time for me to step out and engage deeper into my community so people can get to know me and see my sincerity in wanting to serve them in the best capacity I can offer.
I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions, (I always stop trying to achieve whatever goal I set by about February anyway) but I am going to start serving more heavily in my local church in 2024. I am excited to see how I can help others pursue their relationship with Jesus. My wife and I have been leading a few small groups every year, and it is one of our favorite ways to invest in people. And I am hopeful that we continue to grow our opportunity to lead in 2024.