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Friday, May 6, 2016

Fairhope Beaches Being "Trashed" By Visitors

Fairhope, Alabama



Fairhope North Beach park


ENTRANCE FEES COULD RISE

Because of the "trashing of beach parks" on some weekends, the mayor is asking the city council to raise entrance fees "a couple of dollars" to help cover the higher cleanup costs.

Currently, during Spring and Summer months only, city-area residents having a sticker are allowed in at no charge but others are charged $8 per car and $3 per person for walk-ins; but that is no longer enough to cover the cost of cleaning up the park and restrooms.

Paper, cans and bottles, food, soiled diapers, cold charcoal and miscellaneous other items are being dumped and some of them scattered by the wind; the addition of more  trash and recycling cans last year did not have much impact on the problem.

North Beach Park entrance
Mayor Kant said that Public Works personnel had to come in and clean up twice-daily over the busy weekend of April 24-25th and expenses there have been growing over the years as more people use the park.

At one time the fees were as high as $20, then lowered to $6 and finally to the present $8 -- over 15 years ago.

Councilmember Brewer agreed a $10 fee seemed right; but  Boone argued that since the beach is meant primarily for the use of Fairhopers and "they are not the problem" -- a $25/car fee on "out of towners" was more appropriate.

The mayor said he thought that that since federal dollars have been spent there the general public had to have access -- and the fees needed to be "fair and reasonable." 

He was to research the matter further to determine exact costs to the city -- and if there is a legal-maximum they could charge, according to any federal or state regulations.


NEW PATROL OFFICIAL TO BE HIRED

Currently, a regular police officer must witness the offense to issue citations for littering, but a new (non police) part-time official is to be hired -- just to patrol the beach and pier areas on weekends/holidays as needed.
 
Municipal littering fines are $50 for the first offense, and $100 for subsequent ones; councilman Burrell said he thought issuing more citations was the answer, even though collecting the fines on non-residents may be problematic.

For the time being, the mayor said the entrance booth is to remain open later, until 7PM.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Manley Road New Sidewalk Construction

Fairhope, Alabama


New Manley Rd. sidewalk


A sidewalk funded by the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation is being constructed down a portion the north side of Manley Road in east Fairhope to provide access to the new soccer complex and another route to school for neighborhood children.

Utility and drainage issues may require it to shift to the south side of the road at some point.

The city has applied for a grant that should eventually provide the funding to connect it to a new walking trail along CR13, that is not within the city limits.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New Fairhope Cancer Treatment Clinic Groundbreaking

Fairhope, Alabama



groundbreaking last week


Ground was broken recently for the new $2.8 million Fairhope office of the University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute's 'Academic Cancer Center of the Gulf Coast'  -- on 2 acres of vacant land along Fairhope Avenue west of the courthouse.

According to a press release, the facility will give Baldwin county residents better "access to cutting edge research and clinical trials" in its search for a cure for the disease: about 30% of the institutes 50K yearly patients come from Baldwin County.

 Plans call for the 11,000-square-foot office to include exam rooms, cancer treatment areas and physicians’ offices when it is completed in early 2017.

Designed by WHLC Architecture of Fairhope, the building will be constructed next to the Baldwin County Satellite Courthouse in Fairhope and will replace the current MCI office located inside the Thomas Hospital Medical Office Building.

The 2-acre property was purchased from the Arthur Corte family.

Vince Kilborn
Fairhope attorney Vince Kilborn donated $1.5 million to the cost of the 11,000 sq ft facility, which will open in 2017 when the existing smaller clinic at Thomas Hospital will relocate.

The gift will establish the Vincent F. Kilborn III Endowment that will support the new office’s operations.

The state is also providing funding.

USA President Tony Waldrop thanked the Mitchell family for perceiving the need for a research-based cancer center in South Alabama. Created in 2001, the Mitchell Cancer Institute was modeled after the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer & Research Institute in Tampa, Fla. MCI employs about 300 people, including health-care providers, cancer researchers and staff, and is the only cancer treatment and research institute located on the Gulf Coast corridor.

In addition to offices in Mobile and Fairhope, MCI also operates a patient treatment location at Monroe County Hospital in Monroeville.


 TRAFFIC ISSUES

Fairhope Avenue site
Access will be via a new driveway and at least one of the Darlington Oak street trees on Fairhope Avenue would be removed, according to the site plan reviewed by the city's planning commission last year; but new landscaping would be provided.

A sidewalk was requested as well by the commission; but city ordinances requiring one do not apply to state property.




cancer patient addressed crowd





Sunday, May 1, 2016

Council Approved Clay Tennis Courts

Fairhope, Alabama






Bringing a years-long debate to an end, by a 3-2 margin the city council approved building six clay, self-watering hydra-courts at Stimpson Field just south of the clubhouse -- costing about $409K (lighting not included).

Local American Asphalt Inc. with subcontractor tennis-specialist All Star Courts of Covington  Louisiana, was the low bidder.

Councilpersons Burrell, Mueller and Brewer voted in favor and Ford and Boone against, favoring hard asphalt surfaces instead. (Boone owns property nearby)

Most Tennis Association members supported the clay, because it is easier on seniors with aging joints; but it will require more maintenance.

A full-time tennis pro will be hired as well and should be able to help with the added maintenance (one would have been hired even if hard courts were built).

Plans are to charge a fee for the use of the clay courts to offset added costs.







Another New Multi-species Water Fountain


Fairhope, Alabama





A new water fountain with accommodations for dogs installed recently along the sidewalk at Magnolia Beach is an improvement over the previous method -- the plastic bucket still nearby which can breed mosquitoes.

This is the second in a series of such fountains to be located all around town.

The first is on the sidewalk southeast of the main pier.
 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Special Olympics At Fairhope Stadium Today

Fairhope, Alabama




Police officers carried the torch from Fairhope High School to Majors Stadium this morning where teams from schools throughout the county competed.

Special Olympics is the world's largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to more than 4.5 million athletes in 170 countries





 


Fly Creek Marina Repairs Underway

Fairhope, Alabama


Fly Creek Marina


Repairs to pilings and bulkheads at the private Fly Creek Marina  are underway now; bids are being solicited to repair the pilings and seawall for part of the city's municipal marina on the other side of the creek as well.

The cost for the city marina repairs should not exceed $50K, to be taken from boat slip and rental fees for other city facilities and buildings at the marina and main pier as well (they were increased significantly last year and earmarked for harbor maintenance issues).

It is possible the same company will do both projects, if they are the low-bidder, according to the mayor.


CHANNEL DREDGING STILL AN ISSUE TOO

outer channel
Also, at its last work session the city council again discussed ways to fund dredging the outer channel and possibly the creek itself  all the way to the Scenic 98 bridge: the problem has been ongoing for many years and larger boats have increasing difficulty entering.

Mayor Kant was planning a meeting with Senator Shelby and Congressman Byrne  to see if the Army Corps of Engineers would be able to participate in any way -- or other local funding would be needed.

It was suggested all stakeholders along the creek should participate in the dredging in some way: the State of Alabama owns the creek itself.

About two years ago, the city's Harbor Board was told there is insufficient commercial activity there now to justify the Corps' participation.

Some residents along the creek want to measure and monitor depth to establish a baseline before construction of the next phase of the controversial Fly Creek PUD begins upstream, probably within a year.


city marina area to be repaired

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fairhope Girl's Sidewalk Gets Final Approval

Fairhope, Alabama


Gayfer Road to get sidewalk


EASTERN SHORE MPO MEETS

Funding for a sidewalk on Gayfer Road Extension from the Meadowbrook Subdivison to Bishop Road was approved by the Policy Board this morning; construction should begin in 2017.

The relatively high total cost for the project of about $130K is due to the many drainage concerns in the area.

April MPO Policy Board meeting
Even though the area is outside of city limits, in 2013 then five year old Meadowbrook resident Annabellle Vestal approached Mayor Kant and County Commissioner Dorsey about the need for a sidewalk there; and she appeared before the September 2015 MPO meeting to make her case as well, where it was added to their "visionary list" -- but not funded.

Mayor Kant is Chairman of the Policy Board and councilman Burrell a member.

Media reports from the time say she provided a petition with 66 names -- and "chocolate cookies" to the mayor in the intervening years to keep up interest.


OTHER MATTERS
 
* Resurfacing of CR 13 from Hwy 104 to Fairhope Avenue and Scenic Hwy 98 from Nelson Road to Mullet Point is scheduled for this September.

* Installation of Veterans' Cemetery directional signs is underway now on freeways.

* Final installation of adaptive traffic signal coordination along U.S. 98 is scheduled for this August.

* A video kiosk is now being installed at the Fairhope courthouse for informational purposes.

* All members are currently updating their ADA compliance lists.

* AMTRAC train service will probably be restored to New Orleans from Mobile, but not to Baldwin County at this time.

* ALDOT has decided to fully fund the $3 million divergent-diamond interchange on I-10 at Hwy 181 in 2018, freeing up money for other MPO projects.




Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Maintenance Street Paving Underway

Fairhope, Alabama


Beach park road


$1.2 MILLION PROJECT

park closed
Much-needed paving of the North Beach Park Drive should be completed today -- and more begun at Founders Park, on Edwards Avenue, South Mobile Street and the others on the list sometime thereafter.

J.G. Walton is the contractor.

Update: Paving of the parking lot at the national guard armory is to be reimbursed later by the state ($25K). The mayor said helping with maintenance there may encourage the state to keep the armory there, rather than relocate to Foley someday.

At last word, pavement-striping schemes for De La Mare Avenue and the Community Park lot are to be modified -- to maximize parking capacity.


To  be paved:

Founder's Park
N School St.
N. Beach Dr.
Masonic Dr.
Edwards Ave.
Fairwood Blvd.
Armory
Gayfer Ave.
Greenwood Ave.
Lowry Dr.
Hucknall Dr.
Horn Lane
N. Ingleside St.
Jasmine/Yupon Ave
McDonald Lane
Morphy Ave.
Myrtle Ave
S Summit St.
Volanta Ave.
N. Church St.
S Mobile St.
S Church St.
S School St
DeLamare Ave.
Young St.
S Section St.
Fire Station 1




Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mayor Opens 'Earth Day Mobile Bay' 2016

Fairhope, Alabama






Mayor Kant opened the annual celebration this morning at pier park; he presented Ellie Heath, winner of the anti-littering T-shirt contest. (video below)

Public Works employees recycled electronics nearby.


electronics recycling








Friday, April 22, 2016

Fairhope Middle School Scavenger Hunt Today

Fairhope, Alabama






THIRD ANNUAL 'MATH MANIA' EVENT

Teams of about 120 eighth-grade, math students competed in the annual 'Math Mania Scavenger Hunt' downtown today,  organized by their teacher Michelle Jordan. (click).

Clues for solving various math problems were left at  businesses around town, leading to the ultimate solution.

As a part of the game, they asked Mr. Gene's Beans customers some pertinent question: including "your favorite ice cream flavor."


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Highway 98 Trail Construction To Start Soon?

Fairhope, Alabama



Multi-use, Hwy 98 trail to be on far side



DELAYED BY LOCATION ISSUES

To run behind Woodland's sign
Barring last-minute complications, construction of a 8' wide, multi-use, asphalt trail approved by the city council two years ago will finally begin this June, according to the Eastern Shore MPO's coordinator Sarah Hart at this morning's Policy Board work session.

A federal Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) grant for $400K was approved in 2014, but the project was delayed because of unforeseen technical issues that developed.

(A previous grant application in 2013 was not approved)

The city will provide 20 percent matching funding.

One holdup, a waiver permitting connecting to the existing concrete sidewalk in front of the Publix grocery, was worked out last year; but another with the Woodland's neighborhood owner's association to permit use of their property behind their entrance sign was about to be finalized only last week, according to the mayor.

Some Woodland's residents had security concerns at one time as well.

The 2 mile trail will run south on the east side of Hwy 98 from Rock Creek Parkway to Hwy 104 -- and then west along the south side of Hwy 104 to Section Street, where it will connect with the existing Eastern Shore Trail at the Flowerclock junction.
 
A 150 foot boardwalk and pedestrian bridge will span Fly Creek.

The city is doing some drainage and grading work now along 104 in preparation.



EASTERN SHORE MPO WORK SESSION TODAY










Monday, April 18, 2016

Another Airport Meeting Scheduled Tuesday

Fairhope, Alabama


New airport hangar under construction


The city's Airport Authority will meet tomorrow at 4:30 (Tuesday, Delchamps room) to discuss new hangar and fuel farm construction, among other things: one hangar is already underway and another by a company owned by the the city-team of Authority member Ray Hix and city Judge Haymes Snedecker is planned nearby later.


LOUD MILITARY PLANES STILL AN  ISSUE
Military training flight

After representatives from the Navy met with citizens at last month's  sometimes-raucous meeting (Commander Eric Seib, Randy Roy), they seemed split about whether the plane noise problem was better now.

Some told the Times it was improved, but others unchanged.

The Times' aviation reporter has observed that the planes generally are more out over the bay now -- and executing higher, tighter turns in the vicinity of the airport.

They must use major north-south highways (US 98) and the coastline for orientating the new pilots, according to a Navy officer that was present for the last meeting.

Planes marked orange on the bottom are Navy; blue are Air Force.
Commander Seib standing left

Increased defense department use increases the chances of the AA getting additional FAA grants to facilitate further airport expansion -- especially on the east side where a new terminal and industrial office building are being planned.

A Facebook (click) page was established by the citizens to deal with the issue.

Randy Roy is the contact for the military: randy.roy@navy.mil








Pictures from the March meeting:


NAS Whiting Commander Seib standing at left
Councilman Burrell far right
Hix fourth from left, seated






Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fairhope History's 2016 Satsuma Festival

Fairhope, Alabama



Maypole dancing


The annual Satsuma Festival was held at the Museum of History yesterday,