Letter to the Editor


Oh, well, here “we” go AGAIN. Not too long ago there was an uprising of concerned community folks around Opelika working to stop a quarry from being located close to our city proximity, and, thankfully, community folks and many supporters were successful in that battle. But, I was saddened and surprised to read that recently there had been a “private groundbreaking” for a quarry being built close to Beulah. I have never heard of a “private groundbreaking” and wondered “why”, but maybe that’s just a new approach to “how things are done now.” My bad. Who knew? I am sorry that Beulah could not prevent this from happening in their community. I offer my sincere condolences.

But, this leads to why I’m writing this letter. I have always been at the end of the so-called grape vine (usually the last person to know what is happening). That’s ok. I guess it’s because I’m a shy person and am really hesitant to express my opinions openly and freely. I’m really more about letting others speak first. That being said, I have been surprised and saddened lately to hear that a large development composed of 182 apartments has been approved by The Opelika Planning Commission (by the way, thanks for your dedicated service to our city.). This proposed development will be located on the intersection of Avenue C and South 10th Street, very close to downtown Opelika. Yes, extremely near the heart of downtown Opelika. Actually, two blocks away from Railroad Avenue.

Immediately, I was alarmed wondering how this development might negatively impact the historic integrity of our downtown area. Yes, it is “our” collective area — one so many have worked to preserve, restore  and revive. It belongs to all of us who work and live here. It has taken years, even decades, to get to where we are today. Hundreds of individuals, and groups such as Opelika Main Street, Envision Opelika, the Chamber of Commerce, East Alabama Arts (formerly The Opelika Arts Association), O’Grows, Keep Opelika Beautiful, The Community Foundation, The Opelika Historic Preservation Society, businesses, merchants, individuals, professionals, government groups, elected representatives, city employees, local organizations and civic groups, safety professionals, artist and musicians, civic volunteers, churches, you name it (I sincerely apologize if I’ve left anyone out) have worked to restore and maintain our downtown area to become the healthy, attractive, safe and inviting place it is today. We are proud to call this “our” home and are so happy to welcome many who come here to live, work and enjoy our city.

So, when I learned about the large proposed apartment complex possibly being built, it immediately set off alarms bells for me. Is this the beginning for even more developers to come in to build additional apartment buildings in and around the historic downtown district? How can we protect our historic district and neighborhood homes? What will be the impacts of these types of development so close to downtown and residents who live close by? Who is in favor of this and who will vote to give the final approval to the developers? Will we wake up one day and not even recognize our historic downtown and surrounding area because of this sort of growth? Who are the investors and do they even care about the long term effects this will have on our city? Why not build the proposed apartments further out from the heart of Opelika? We have sadly seen the disappearance of The Loveliest Village on the Plains in recent years. Now let’s stop that from happening here in Opelika before it’s too late. Call your elected representative and ask them about what is happening. What are the infrastructure and road costs in allowing this development, what are the environmental effects, how will this affect noise and traffic and how will this affect property taxes, safety and privacy of those residents living close by? How many developers will see this as an open door to bring in more large residential developments? Finally, I ask, will we leave our city healthier, safer and more beautiful for our children, grandchildren and future residents? Will we be saddened to one day drive by this proposed large building so close to our lovely downtown and ask ourselves, “How did this happen,” and “What have we lost”?. Will there be another “private ground breaking” this time in Opelika for this project that could change our city forever? Please ask questions. Call or contact our mayor and city council representatives. And, I humbly ask, “Don’t Ruin Opelika, Protect Opelika”.

Thank you,

Dora James, resident of

Opelika since 1964 


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