Pike Road Schools recently announced that the school board officially entered into a contract to acquire over 73 acres of land as a location for a new high school. The massive project is the most recent step in the township's decades-long expansion.

"I think we are continuing to be blessed by opportunities," said Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone." And one of the things that you try to do when you work in a municipality is try to create more opportunities that choose your town for their home. So we've been blessed. The school has been on an upward trajectory.

"Not only is it the school of choice for so many people, but it has also seen improved test scores, and we are excited about the academic expansion. We're excited about the programmatic content of the school because they're offering a wide variety of options for our young people to develop their full set of gifts and talents."

Stone also credited residents with not only going through the process to qualify as a municipal school system but also consenting to the property taxes required to fund the fledgling system.

Expanded school performance and facilities are the most recent in a long stream of developments in the ever-growing town.

Pike Road is one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the state. Census information shows Pike Road grew by more than 1,600% from 2000-2010, with tremendous growth in the following decade as well.

"I think from the earliest days, there has been an appreciation for the beauty of the land by the people who chose to live in Pike Road, even before it was a municipality," Stone said. "They just love the way the pastures and the community are interconnected. When we engaged in a process to form a town, one of the things that people realized, by virtue of the mission statement, which is to maintain character while planning for progress, we've tried all along to build a model for growth that would allow us to have opportunities but at the same time respect the uniqueness of our area."

In addition to the mission statement, Pike Road claims to operate with a dedication to a conservative fiscal policy in tandem with four pillars of growth: planning, education, quality of life and services.

"People who move to Pike Road, no matter what stage in the life of our 26-year-old town they chose to move there, they had a reason," Stone said. "They had a motivation and quality of life that they anticipated, so we work very hard to try to be respectful of those characteristics."

According to Stone, the town has also been successful by outsourcing a number of services typically provided by state or municipal programs in cities. Outside entities offer things like water and sewer, safety, road maintenance and more without forming traditional municipal systems.

The town also has no police department and is instead policed by the Montgomery County Sheriff's office, an agreement Stone said was for "the best."

"Our response times are tremendous," Stone said. "Our engagement, if and when we have had incidents, you couldn't ask for better. I tell people, there's no reason to change that unless we see, at some point in time, our circumstances being adversely impacted by not having a local force. But we save a lot in overhead costs that would go with having both a Sheriff's department and a local department, and we are able to provide additional resources to them."

Pike Road is seen by many as the landing spot for River Region commuters who wish to work in the area but don't want to live in more developed areas due to crime, taxation, service quality, privacy and more. According to Stone, Pike Road leadership does not model its town on what neighboring communities are doing wrong. Rather, it seeks to develop a town that functions well for its residents.

"I can say with 100% certainty that we've never made a decision based in any of our neighboring communities," Stone said. "We make decisions based on what we've learned from an analysis of municipalities in general. We're working with the best planners we could access. We've looked at quality of life planning from California to Florida to New England and tried to say, 'These are desirable places. If you moved to that area, you would choose this community. Why would you choose this community?' So, that's been our motivation."

"We have people who've moved from other areas, some from Montgomery, some from Elmore County areas, some from Autauga County, and some from Pike County," he added. "I don't know that it's because we've emphasized being different than anybody. I think It's because we've tried to figure out the best practices for building a town."

Pike Road's growth shows no sign of stopping, and while Stone admittedly does not have a "crystal ball," he does foresee continued economic development for the town in the coming years.

"I think we want to do the fundamental things we've been doing that have made us so blessed, and listening to what our people are saying," Stone said. "We want to continue to make sure people are aware that, while our model may be different from what they see in other municipalities, our model is actually proven to be as effective if not more effective."

He continued, "We will see more economic development in a variety of shapes. Because our size and capacity is beginning to reach a point where that is going to be available to us. Meaning, I think you'll see more retail, more commercial growth, and we would like to be able to recruit some job producers into Pike Road. "

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.

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