List of initiatives proposed by Larry Langford

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This is a List of initiatives proposed by Larry Langford.

Larry Langford earned a reputation as a fertile wellspring of bold proposals. Birmingham News Editor Tom Scarritt characterized him as "a Gatling gun of ideas."

Birmingham City Council

Langford served a two-year term on the Birmingham City Council from 1977 to 1979.

  • 1979: During his mayoral campaign, Langford proposed demolishing Sloss Furnaces to construct an industrial park. It was conserved instead and operates as a National Historic Landmark, arts center and event venue.

Mayor of Fairfield

Visionland logo.gif

Langford was Mayor of Fairfield from 1988 to 2000.

  • Buying the Flintridge Building to use as a municipal center. (still privately owned)
  • Building a monorail around the proposed municipal center. (never realized)
  • Bailing out Fairfield City Schools. (enacted 1-cent sales tax)
  • Constructing a new Fairfield High School.
  • Constructing the Fairfield Civic Center.
  • Implementing drug testing for city employees.
  • Creating a "Mayor's Commission on Literacy" to plan after-school tutoring and parent education.
  • Bringing 11 cities together to jointly construct the Visionland amusement park. (constructed, but sold out of bankruptcy to private operator)
  • Using the West Jefferson Amusement and Public Park Authority to subsidize development of an outlet mall adjacent to VisionLand (built as WaterMark Place, which has floundered)
  • 1998: Using the income stream from the outlet mall to finance bonds for construction of a $50 million (or $75 million or $90 million) VisionQuest Aquarium at Dalonah Quarry Lake (never begun, though Langford had gotten "to the point of pricing fish"). The site was later used to expand a water treatment facility.
  • Digging a canal from the Black Warrior River to the former Ensley Works site to serve barge and riverboat traffic. (never realized)

Jefferson County Commission

Langford served one full term on the Jefferson County Commission beginning in 2002, and was its president for that term. He was re-elected in 2006, but lost his position as president and resigned after winning the 2007 Birmingham mayoral election. The Birmingham News credited Langford with 69 public initiatives during his first four years on the Jefferson County Commission (2002 - 2006). Among them were:

  • Hosting a "bury the hatchet" party with members of the Commission and the Jefferson County Legislative delegation at which he distributed keepsake hatchets and displayed one lying in an infant's coffin. (done)
  • Selling the county sewer system to private investors. (still owned by county)
  • Instituting a four day work week for county employees. (done later during the county's fiscal crisis)
  • Bringing Giuseppe Moretti's "Bust of Christ" to Vulcan Park. (held by Alabama Department of Archives and History)
  • Putting magician's top hats on downtown light poles. (no action)
  • Hiring a public relations firm to promote Jefferson County in the state.
  • Negotiating bond swap deals to reduce interest payments. (done, later resulting in ballooning interest rates and a fiscal crisis)
  • Starting a literacy center for public school students.
  • Reviving street trolleys. (reintroduced as mayor, abandoned in 2009)
  • Board certification for teachers.
  • 2004: Asking Wachovia Bank to donate $150 million ($5M per year for 30 years) in order to finance construction of a 50,000-seat domed stadium that would be built over the then-vacant Downtown Sears store and Cabana Hotel. Both buildings were later redeveloped, as the Innovation Depot and the Thomas Jefferson Tower.
  • Levying an additional 1-cent sales tax to support $1.1 billion in bond funds for school construction. (completed successfully, transitioned to Jefferson County Community Service Fund in 2017)
  • Naming the Jefferson County Bessemer Justice Center in honor of Medal of Honor recipient George Watson. (memorial to Watson included, but name not changed)

Mayor of Birmingham

Langford 2007.PNG

During his campaign for the 2007 election for Mayor of Birmingham, Langford used the slogan "Let's Do Something," and promised that a broad range of major projects would be underway within his first month in office. Many of these were incorporated into his proposal for the Birmingham Economic and Community Revitalization Ordinance which he delivered to the Birmingham City Council two days after he was sworn in. The measure, which was approved on December 4, provides new revenues for the following:

  • Increased city funding for transit improvements, including new buses and Heritage streetcars. (the bus fleet has been upgraded, but no heritage streetcars funded)
  • City funding for a domed stadium, to be located either downtown adjacent to the BJCC, at Fair Park, near the Birmingham Race Course, or elsewhere. (re-imagined as an outdoor stadium at the BJCC, opened in 2021 as Protective Stadium)
  • Funding college or trade school scholarships for Birmingham City Schools students with a "C" average or above. (Proposal was set aside to fund pre-K programs)
  • contributing $10 million per year into an economic development fund
  • spending $15 million per year on streets and sidewalks, of which $9 million would be divided between the 9 council districts as "discretionary" funds. (implemented, more or less, by subsequent administrations)

In addition to the ordinance, Langford made numerous other proposals while in office:

  • Sending Birmingham Department of Public Works crews out on a continuous 23 in 23 initiative to clean up neighborhood rights-of-way and remove trash, abandoned vehicles and overgrowth. (realized)
  • Buying 15,000 XO laptops from the One Laptop Per Child foundation for Birmingham City Schools students in 1st through 8th grade. (realized, but not successfully)
  • Demolishing Boutwell Auditorium and giving the site to the Birmingham Museum of Art for expansion. (under consideration)
  • Demolishing Legion Field. (under consideration)
  • Demolishing the Birmingham Board of Education Building at Linn Park for redevelopment. (under consideration)
  • Building an aquarium, perhaps as part of a major shopping mall. (speculative)
  • Creating a new Birmingham logo, featuring a magician's hat. (realized, but no longer in use)
  • Providing $5 million toward construction of an amphitheater as part of Phase 1 of the Railroad Reservation Park. (approved, but never built)
  • Lobbying the state legislature for a lottery or bingo game to support health care. (speculative)
  • Providing $1 million toward renovations at Bethel Baptist Church as part of a city-led revitalization of Collegeville. (approved, with efforts to revitalize continued across later administrations led primarily by council members Maxine Parker and her son William)
  • Fair Park Redevelopment: Providing funds for about half of a $90 million "Olympic-style village" at Five Points West, including a high-rise residential complex, artificial lakes, a swimming facility and renovations to the Birmingham International Raceway. (under way, raceway was demolished as part of the redevelopment for the Birmingham CrossPlex aquatics and athletics center. Commercial redevelopment of city-owned property as CrossPlex Village began in late 2016)
  • Contributing $20 million toward the expansion of Children's Hospital. (approved)
  • Creating a $5 million short-term loan program for business expansion. (realized)
  • Portable laptop labs at city high schools. (not realized)
  • A girl's fast-pitch softball facility. (not realized)
  • Demolishing nearly 1,500 dilapidated houses across the city, selling the scrap metal salvaged, and offering the lots to developers. (demolitions begun, resumed as part of a "300 houses in 30 days" demolition blitz in October 2009, later taken up under William Bell's administration and the Birmingham Land Bank Authority)
  • Providing houses in the city for those bought out by the Birmingham International Airport's noise abatement program. (unknown)
  • Asking Artur Davis to suggest that the U.S. Postal Service end Saturday delivery to save money. (Independently proposed in 2013)
  • Bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games. (barely pursued, without success. Under William Bell the city did apply for and win a bid to host the 2021 World Games, which were held here in 2022.)
  • Renaming the Birmingham International Airport for Fred Shuttlesworth. The mayor's proposal included a suggested new logo. (name change realized)
  • Constructing a new municipal center on the Trinity Park site as part of a $65 million revitalization of the Titusville community. (not realized, later the area was purchased by the Greater Birmingham Humane Society)
  • Incarcerating parents of repeat curfew offenders. (approved)
  • Selling wood waste to an ethanol plant in exchange for fuel, in cooperation with Hoover and Bessemer. (unknown)
  • Outfitting all publicly-owned vehicles with centrally-linked GPS receivers to monitor their usage. (unknown)
  • Proposing a state law to allow the city to seize vehicles in which any occupant is found to be illegally carrying a firearm. (speculative)
  • Leasing, instead of purchasing, all 2,200 city vehicles. (approved)
  • Creating a Civil Rights Trail. (first signage erected August 2009)
  • Building fountains and plazas in Pratt City, Five Points West, North Birmingham, Roebuck and two fountains downtown. (not realized)
  • Repaving all 1,100 miles of city streets beginning with a 3-year project to repave 500 miles over three years by splitting $16 million per year between every paving company in the city. (bid out and awarded to one company, starting with downtown paving)
  • Having the city partner with Cooper Green Mercy Hospital to provide discounted prescription drugs to low-income residents at a cost of $1.3 million per year. (speculative)
  • Joining with Jefferson County to purchase Century Plaza and convert it into a senior citizens' recreation center. (not realized. Vacant mall later put under option by [[New Rising Star Church])
  • Painting Five Points South red as part of a comprehensive public works project to spruce up the district in preparation for the Bowl. (realized, but quickly faded)
  • Hiring 13-year-old Raven Hatcher as a consultant to the the Birmingham Parks & Recreation Board under a $10,000 contract. (approved)
  • Increasing annual contributions to the Birmingham Zoo from $500,000 to $2 million and refunding sales taxes collected there by the city to support development of the "Trails of Africa" exhibit and a possible future 1 million gallon aquarium. (uncertain. The zoo did complete the exhibit, but has no current plans for an aquarium)
  • Developing pre-kindergarten programs at the former Elyton School and Banks Middle School, giving the Powell School building to the private Cornerstone School, and selling the old Carver High School site in Collegeville for redevelopment as housing. (unknown)
  • Partnering with the Canyon Johnson Urban Fund and Daniel Corporation to redevelop Southtown public housing as a commercial district and to build new homes for many of its displaced residents. (HABD later made plans for redevelopment of Southtown with input from Bayer Properties)
  • Renovating Rickwood Field and joining it by skywalk to an adjacent Negro Leagues Museum. (funding approved, but never the museum was later built adjacent to Regions Field in downtown's Parkside District. Rickwood received emergency repair funds from the city in 2017.)
  • Auctioning off vacant properties owned by city. (partially realized later under the Birmingham Land Bank Authority)
  • Constructing 200 new 2- and 3-bedroom homes on vacant property in Titusville and Collegeville. (Renew Birmingham project approved)
  • Asking Jefferson County to transfer ownership of Cooper Green Mercy Hospital to the city. (not realized)
  • Halting funding for Operation New Birmingham and suggesting it merge with the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Development Board and Region 2020. (realized with the creation of REV Birmingham, though funding continues)
  • Giving netbook PCs to City Council members, pre-loaded with budget information and other documents.
  • Lowering sales tax on automobile sales.
  • Illuminating city landmarks with pink lights for national breast cancer awareness month. (realized October 2009)
  • Issuing a blanket pardon to all convicted in Birmingham Municipal Court for non-violent protests during the Civil Rights Movement. (issued August 11, 2009)
  • Recommending that the City of Fairfield purchase the Flintridge Building as a replacement for Fairfield City Hall, and encircling the site with a monorail (2011)


  • Foreman, Paul (December 2, 1998) "Visions of VisionWorld, VisionDome". The Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (December 9, 2007) "Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford has gotten major projects under way in first month in office." The Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (December 4, 2007) "Birmingham City Council approves sales tax, business license fee increases." The Birmingham News
  • Wright, Barnett (April 23, 2006) "Langford's full of ideas, both big and small." The Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (September 21, 2007) "Idea man Langford a champion for change." The Birmingham News
  • Spencer, Thomas (December 2, 2008) "Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford full of contrasts." The Birmingham News
  • Koplowitz, Howard (January 10, 2019) "Larry Langford’s grand visions and furious flops in Birmingham, Jefferson County." The Birmingham News