RAINSVILLE, Ala. - The Tennessee Valley Authority is preparing to sell most of where the utility began.
The TVA board Thursday agreed to sell 1,000 acres of the 1,400-acre Muscle Shoals Reservation near TVA's Wilson Dam in Northern Alabama. Although any auction of the property is still at least a year away, TVA directors voted to declare the site surplus and work with a group of mayors and county commissioners in Colbert and Lauderdale counties in Alabama to create a management plan for the land to be sold.
"Our desired outcome here is to complement our TVA economic development mission by a redevelopment plan that adds to the vitality of the local area by adding to local jobs and better utilizing the Muscle Shoals site," TVA Executive Vice President Rob Manning told the TVA board.
The site was originally used to make weapon materials in World War I but was turned over to the Tennessee Valley Authority from the War Department in 1933 when TVA was established. TVA used Muscle Shoals through most of its history to develop and manufacture fertilizers.
"The work that was done on this reservation has done a significant amount to boost the amount and quality of food production, not only in the Tennessee Valley but around the world," Manning said.
The site was once the utility's headquarters before TVA's main offices were relocated to Knoxville.
TVA phased out its fertilizer production through the 1980s and 1990s and such work was ended altogether when Congress quit giving appropriated funds to TVA in 1999.
During a public listening session Thursday, the president of the American Chestnut Foundation, Mac Phillippi, appealed to TVA to protect the Chestnut orchard at the site. TVA said that land for the Chestnuts will be protected and is not part of the 1,000 acres to be sold.
Local community leaders have differed over how the surplus land should be used, but a consortium of city and county leaders ultimately united as the North Alabama Cooperative District to set standards and zoning for any development on land TVA sells.
"We've shown that multiple communities can work together and we hope we can polish this crown jewel again for the future," said Forrest Wright, a member of the North Alabama Cooperative District.