The large empty lot on the corner of Central Boulevard and Lily Avenue in East Tallassee will soon see upgrades to the green space now the Tallassee City Council has named it Bobby Payne Park.
Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock had the idea to dedicate the park to former Mayor Bobby Payne and maybe put up a welcome sign.
"I think that's a great idea," councilmember Terrell Brown said. "To honor his 24 years of service, I make a motion that we name this newly acquired property Bobby Payne Park."
The motion passed all in favor of the dedication.
Payne served as Tallassee's mayor collectively for 24 years, making him the longest-seated mayor in the history of the city.
Payne graduated from Etowah County High School. In 1963, he earned a football scholarship from Auburn University. He moved with his wife Mary Carroll to Tallassee after completing his eligibility and worked at Mount Vernon Mills.
Payne ran for city council in 1976 and served as a councilmember for three terms. In 1988 he ran for mayor and won the race against incumbent Thomas Pollard. He remained in office for 20 years before losing in 2008 to George McCain. In 2012 he entered and won the race to reclaim the mayor's seat. Payne retired in 2016.
There was a large two-story duplex house on the corner lot the city had to demolish after a sinkhole began to form in the ground beneath the structure.
"The mill built that house, like a lot of houses here, and they built it on top of a storm drain," Hammock said. "The mill gave the infrastructure to the City of Tallassee and now we are responsible or it."
The issue was brought to the attention of city officials who had to take swift action to ensure the safety of the property owner and others who live near the area.
Because the sinkhole formed due to an old faulty pipeline, the city was liable and had to purchase the property for $67,000 to fix the problem.
The property was purchased with revenue from the 2-cent gasoline tax that is earmarked for infrastructure issues like drainage problems, sidewalks and street repairs.