Monday, September 14, 2015

Updated: Committee Calls Vehicles On Municipal Pier 'Dangerous'

Fairhope, Al.


UPDATE: A Times' investigative reporter working the night shift found the newest 10 passenger yellow-colored shuttle parked at another restaurant nearby on Mobile Street; the older, green 8 passenger one is still parked near the pier restrooms. Supporters claim they both are needed to ferry disabled customers out to the mid-pier restaurant. (Rumors of a third red-colored one could not be verified) Also, passenger shuttles are not permitted on the pier, according to the lease contract -- see below for details.

Pedestrian committee meets
City Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee members said they have  been hearing citizen complaints that the new electric vehicles  driving on the municipal pier poses a threat to pedestrians and children especially. (video)

The 'Shux' restaurant owned by famous local restaurateur Rick Gambino opened last July -- and began operating a shuttle service from the parking area to the restaurant halfway out on the pier.

The city council had transferred the existing 15 year lease for the city property with the former establishment's owner  (Bob Pope) to Gambino earlier in the year.

Hazardous for children?
Referring to an incident earlier in the year when an elderly couple was injured by another type vehicle, member Jane Finger declared: "I'm against it ... it interferes with pedestrian traffic ... especially little children."

Finger said parents can no longer let their children roam freely with the shuttle going back and forth all day long.

"I am ok with it up to the pier ... from the bluff ... or the parking lot ... but on the pier it is in the way."

Pedestrian committee
Finger said even those with severe disabilities were able to make it out to the previous owner's 'Yardarm' restaurant with convectional devices (walkers, wheelchairs, etc): she cited a well known Catholic priest (Father George) as an example of how well it worked in the past.

One member referred to signs that had always been at the pier's entrance prohibiting "bicycles, skateboards, and vehicles" -- but was dismayed to learn that old sign had been removed and replaced with one omitting the word vehicles.

Another observed that if vehicles are allowed now, why not allow inherently less-threatening bikes or skateboards too?
Chairman Chris Riley

Instead of passing a formal resolution of concern now (possibly something like:"a safety hazard; it interrupts the free flow of pedestrians and children"), the committee decided to allow chairman Chris Riley time to contact the city clerk about the proper way to proceed with a recommendation to the council.

Riley hoped a compromise could be worked out in the interim.

(At one time last week there were actually two shuttles operating there, according to Riley.)

shuttle #2

Anyone who follows the Times' Facebook page knows there are others concerned too and many on the other side who support the shuttle and vigorously defend it.

A Facebook group called 'Those Who Walk on The Pier Daily' were among the first to sound the alarm of the potential danger.

The city's potential liability if someone is hit (lawsuits?) and generally "too much commercial activity on public property" -- such as the "tacky" advertisements stapled to city garbage cans are concerns too.

Shux ad at pier
City maintenance vehicles no longer operate on the pier to empty garbage, clean restrooms, etc.  A Times reporter was told by a worker the trucks were damaging the concrete decking.


According to the 'Use of Pier' section of the lease agreement (below), vehicles permitted on the pier are for "supplies, maintenance, and building purposes" only: Passenger shuttles are not mentioned anywhere.

Who authorized the passenger shuttles contrary to the contract (and why)  remains a mystery.


Sec. 20-10. - Driving on municipal pier.
It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle or bicycle upon the municipal pier located at the westernmost end of Fairhope Avenue in the city or to allow any such vehicle to enter thereon.
(Ord. No. 535, § 1, 5-27-74)




Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote this may wind up "sleeping with the fishes" if you know what I mean .................. RIP asshole!

Anonymous said...

As a regular "pier walker" I have found the shuttle threatening as it seems to be traveling too fast, it's too wide for the space, and the driver seems to think that they have the right-of-way over pedestrians and those fishing. This is wrong! The City Council should put a stop to this violation.

Chris Riley - Chairman, PED/ BIKE Committee said...

The Fairhope PED/Bike Commitee will not be addressing nor commenting on the use of any vehicles on the Pier. Any questions, concerns or informational requests need to be directed to Mayor Kant (251)928-2136 or his assistant Gayle Fogarty (251)928-2236

Robert said...

I guess the Godfather's in control of our city government now. Just like back in the good ole days ....

Anonymous said...

There once was a cart on a pier
Its presence stirred anger and fear
Though the law said "No cart"
A deal was a part
And that's how it's done down here.

Anonymous said...

Coming up next - go cart races on the pier. Maybe a skateboard obstacle course.
Lookout Grandpa!

And BTW - the food at this place is bad and overpriced. The service and the air conditioning are also lacking. Not to mention the parking issues. I don't see this as being a long term problem. There are better places to eat in Fairhope.

Anonymous said...

Well. they just may need to change the law then. It helps people get out there in the bad winter weather and rain.

Anonymous said...

Private scooters like WAL MART make more sense and by the way what winter weather ? Golf carts belong on golf course It cracks me up how people ride them around a neighborhood that does not have a course It is like their lost and looking for the course....... they look so out of place and don't know how comical they look

Anonymous said...

the cart takes up the whole pier I agree this does not need to be on the pier . I personally think that space would make a great ice cream shop. The last restaurant that was there was horrible and the atmosphere too. No thank you to another resturant

Rebecca Carl said...

I was there at the restaurant with some out of town guests Friday night of Labor Day weekend. The shuttle was very careless in turning around in front of the pier restrooms; if someone would have been coming out of the restroom, they would have been hurt; they were whipping around too fast and not watching in reverse. And there was people all over the place. Let the city get their first lawsuit and they will go broke for sure especially with the ordinance and the lease information.

And I know this should not be part of the conversation, but the restaurant is terribly unorganized in seating patrons, running people out the door with no sign or anyone out front to advise of protocol of taking names. Another problem with the shuttle as far as people standing around waiting outside; we were early so I am sure it was much busier later. I also was presented with a hair imbedded in my sandwich; we had to call the manager out instead of him coming out on his own and he grinned the whole time I was telling him about it and tried to blame it on our waitress; but it was clearly attached to the melted cheese and very clearly could have been seen when it was brought out. And besides some kitchen person brought it out not our waitress. I was more upset with this manager's attitude about the whole thing than I was the hair in my food! He grudgingly said he would cover our dinner after he asked me if I wanted something else! Who could eat after that! My guests didn't want to eat their food either and it was very embarrassing to bring them to what I thought would be a nice eating experience for their first trip to Fairhope. And him throwing it off on the innocent waitress was uncalled for; very low class. This is not the kind of restaurant we want out there on our pier representing Fairhope.

Anonymous said...

I was not aware that there were so many " affirmed" residents in Fairhope that in order to keep ones business doors open they have to provide a service right to the front door or they would have to shut down. I really like Rick Gambino..but he totally lost me as a fan to that pathetic, drama based statement. The shuttle is really nothing but a simple business shtick. The " controversy" is great free advertising. It's little more than an advertising tool to sell more food and alcohol. How do the other shops and restaurants in Fairhope manage to stay open with little parking period and few handicapped spots in town. Let's call it what it is. Free advertising.....

Anonymous said...

Why don't we just sell the pier to the Godfather if he wants to take it over so bad? Build a public one somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

It's illegal to operate a vehicle on the pier . Why is this allowed...dangerous or not ?