While Pike Road has only existed as a municipality since 1997, the Pike Road community has flourished for more than 175 years. Beginning with the arrival of the Meriwether, Mathews and Marks families around 1815, people began settling and farming the area in the mid-nineteenth century. As more families moved in, more services were needed, and by the early twentieth century, a booming small town had grown up at the intersection of Pike Road and Meriwether Road. (Pike Road, of course, was so-called because one had to pay a toll, or pike, to travel on it.) The crossroads community was referred to as the Pike Road community because of its location on the heavily traveled highway. The main intersection was home to several businesses, including cotton gins, a hardware store, livestock auction, post office, general store and doctors’ offices. Two of the buildings which once housed these early enterprises still stand near the original town center and across Pike Road from the first town hall.
The twentieth century brought continued population growth to Pike Road. While children’s education had been handled by individual families up to this point, the need for a consolidated public school was imminent. Within a few years, the people of the community had raised the money and procured the land for the schoolhouse, and the Pike Road Consolidated School opened in 1918. The school became a center for community activities and remained so until its close in 1970.
The close of the Pike Road School was just one of many changes that took place in the Pike Road area in the 1970s. With the growth of the City of Montgomery came new challenges for the quiet farming community. Residents realized that without local control over zoning regulations, their pristine surroundings and way of life might be lost forever if the area were annexed.
Responding to the effects of the expanding neighbor city, the residents of Pike Road first considered incorporation during this decade. Though this first consideration of independence was given up, the idea was revived in 1986. The obstacle to the second attempt was the prohibitive cost of the legal work involved in establishing a municipality. However, residents continued to grow increasingly aware of the threat the encroaching city posed to the Pike Road way of life.
At the same time that these early discussions of incorporation were taking place, new construction was booming in the Pike Road community. All of the new homes brought residents to the area in droves, and the population of Pike Road doubled during the 1980s. The population growth added more voices to the strengthening outcry for incorporation.
After years of discussion and pressured by a proposed plan to run the Outer Loop, an Interstate bypass, through the heart of Pike Road, citizens organized the final, successful incorporation effort in 1997. In order to make the vision a reality, a Pike Road attorney volunteered his time and legal services to the effort. At the time, 209 voters from the Glynlakes, Bean, Barnes and Meriwether Road neighborhoods were asked to vote on whether or not a city should be formed. Proponents of the idea spent countless hours going door-to-door, “selling” the idea to everyone they could reach and convincing them to go to the polls. On October 10, 1997, 151 of those voters cast their ballots in the referendum. 147 of them, or 97%, voted “yes” for independence. With the passing of the referendum, the Pike Road community became the Town of Pike Road, a Class 8 municipality.
Incorporation was not the end of the battle to preserve and build on the heritage of the Pike Road area. In the years since the initial vote was cast, the town has faced the challenges of raising revenue, maintaining roads, providing public services to citizens and staying ahead of the neighboring city’s efforts to annex land. During the town’s first years, council and planning commission meetings were held at Peace Baptist Church, the location where the vote to incorporate took place. It was at the Peace Baptist Church that discussions were had over how to best supply services such as water, sewer, road maintenance, fire and police protection to the citizens.
The location of the first town hall building, at 4902 Pike Road, was symbolic of city leaders’ commitment to preserving the heart of Pike Road, both literally and metaphorically. The former home is near the intersection of Meriwether and Pike Roads, at the original center of the Pike Road community. Town council and other committee meetings were held in the front portion of the building, which, in a salute to the town’s commitment to independence, was dedicated on July 4, 2005. Though town offices have relocated, the original town hall building is will soon be the heart of a town center, complete with a fire station, community activities facility and open space.
August 25, 2010, the Pike Road Town Council held its first meeting in the new town hall facility at Pike Road Station. Located just east of the intersection of Pike Road and Vaughn Road, the new facility symbolizes the beginning of a new chapter in the town’s history. The newly renovated building that now houses town offices was originally designed as an upscale grocery store. Now, it is one of Alabama’s municipal showplaces. With meeting space for official town business, training rooms that can be utilized by community groups, a large banquet room and ample office space, the new town hall meets the needs of the municipal government while offering citizens a place to gather.
From 2010 to 2015
The Town of Pike Road had an amazing experience of growth and development. The Town has categorized its development into four basic categories that are supported by a strong administrative system, conservative fiscal policy and a dedication to communication. The Four Pillars of the town are Planning, Education, Quality of Life and Services. As the Four Pillars are integrated into the daily activity, it becomes clear that they are a part of each and every decision that the town undertakes.
Over the time from 2010 to 2015, the town has experienced phenomenal growth. The development of property and the annexation of parcels within neighborhoods has made the town one of Alabama’s fastest growing communities. Yet at the same time, the town has been careful to not force annexation. Every individual property owner has been given the opportunity to enter the town at an casual pace. In 2010, the town was just over 5000 people. By 2015 the growth had surpassed 8000.
Accompanying the growth, the town has had the chance to host three major comprehensive planning activities. These consisted of engaging citizens in a process of planning. Individual ideas from every landowner were considered and implemented into the zoning, sub-division regulatory and construction standards. With these planning exercises the town has developed a model of growth to utilize with individual landowners. This plan for advancing the town engages all of the seven traditional communities within Pike Road area. By protecting the historic town centers and keeping open space a priority, the town anticipates continued growth. The planning and development was so successful that the town hired a full-time planning director to oversee these activities in 2015.
The educational growth of the town may be the most phenomenal story. As the town advanced, the growth continued to bring new people with great ideas and a dedication to investing in future citizens. Parents and individuals, that have chosen to make the Town of Pike Road their home, committed thousands of hours to study curriculum, take field trips to other cities to meet and learn from educational experts, etc. These leaders in the community divided into committees and actively engaged in the effort to define a new way of learning. Their efforts were focused on connecting the Pike Road School with universities and making sure that all children were treated as lifelong learners. The goal centered around building a challenging system that will bring confidence in the school. The citizens played a vital role in providing the school because they adopted a 16 mil property tax to make it possible. In 2014, a school board was created and a superintendent was hired. In 2015, the town experienced the popularity of the school as over 500 individuals seeking the 50 different initial teaching positions. Later in 2015, the school opened in a phenomenal new building and welcomed over 1000 new students. Also, in 2015 the town was able to purchase the historic school that was closed in 1970.This will serve as the second campus of the school.
The quality of life undertaking of the town has been driven by the effort to maintain the special nature of the area. Known as a place with hospitable people, Pike Road has always had a spirit of engaging people. Through the establishment of the Enhance Initiative, the town developed series of volunteer driven committees that were focused on keeping agriculture a part of the lifestyle, maintaining the recreational options and providing artistic opportunities for people. The ENHANCE Initiative also provided people the means to assist others through the PRICE Foundation and to support those in need through the P.R.A.Y.E.R. Team. The town has a full-time economic and community development director and she is continuously working with the business community to create new ways to add value to the community while creating jobs for the citizens. Results of the ENHANCE Initiative include a donation of land for an Athletic and Performing Arts Center.
When it comes to services, the town has also seen growth from 2010 to 2015. Currently, the town is investigating and studying the best ways to provide assistance in road maintenance and transportation. The town has developed a full-scale transportation plan making it unique for communities with 8000 citizens. Blessed with three volunteer fire departments, a great collaboration with the Sheriff’s Department, and a 24 hour ambulance service, the citizens have experienced a comprehensive array of public safety programs. Water and sewer services have grown in their availability and garbage and recycling programs are also available. The town also has two electricity providers and two gas companies.
The Town of Pike Road has taken advantage of the opportunity to grow in the areas that people have requested. People living in Pike Road have the opportunity to have a voice in the day-to-day operations of the town, yet they also have the assurance that Pike Road is growing in a manner that meets their needs.
The town offers a full array of administrative support in all of the activities of the Four Pillars. Likewise, the town through its communication program, has the chance to share its stories. Newsletters, social media, webpage and other tools are continuously reviewed to make sure that citizens are aware of the opportunities in Pike Road to “Maintain Our Character While Planning for Progress.”