The City of Tuscaloosa held a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday for the trailhead and half-mile expansion of the Northern Riverwalk.

The ceremony was to introduce the Randall Family Park and Trailhead, a public park area attached to a new 0.6 mile-long Riverwalk path. This was possibly thanks to a 19-acre land donation from the Randall family, valued at $2.72 million.

"It's been said that parks and playgrounds are the heart and soul of the city. That's certainly true here today," said Frank Randall, one of five brothers and sisters who was the benefactor of the land. "My father bought this land decades ago, and it sat idle and unappreciated for many years. We're just happy that you're all able to do this with it. We're happy to be a part of it."

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City Council President Kip Tyner spoke on behalf of District 3 Councilman Norman Crow at the event.

"It's a great day for District 3 and the entire city of Tuscaloosa," Tyner said. "The Northern Riverwalk and trailhead truly would not have been possible without the generosity of my dear friends, the Randall Family, and for their passion to give back in ways that will continue to move our city forward for years to come."

Also in attendance was District 63 Alabama House Representative Cynthia Almond. Almond served 16 years as a city councilwoman, and she spoke about the progress of the Riverwalks since she was first in office.

 

"I remember in the '90's driving up and down this very spot on the river seeing signs saying 'Riverwalk coming soon,'" Almond said. "Let's just say good things come to those who wait."

"Tuscaloosa's always been at its best when it partners with its community," said Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox.

As Maddox explained, this trailhead and expansion were just considered phase one of the Northern Riverwalk project, made possible through Elevate Tuscaloosa funds.

"Tuscaloosa's always found it's soul by the water. So much of our soul comes from the waters that flow right behind me," Maddox said. "It's more than just a geographical location -- it seems to connect all of us.... With our Riverwalks, it's a place where communities can come together."

Maddox teased a private sector development that will help continue connection back to the West, and the McWright's Ferry Road project set to go under construction in 2023, which includes a pedestrian bridge across North River that will ultimately connect to the Northern Riverwalk. Maddox summarized how thankful he was to work with a city that is constantly .

"Talking to Norman Crowe yesterday, he was asking 'when are we getting started on Phase Two?' I said Norman, we've got to enjoy Phase One!" Maddox said. "That is awesome that we live in a community where our city leaders are excited to move on to the next project."

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