City will establish areas for people who like to use pop-up tents for shade
Signal may be added at East Second St. with access to new Gulf Place addition
By John Mullen
Gulf Shores is going to study whether a traffic light will be needed at East Second Street and the entrance to the new Gulf Place project directly across from it.
Beachfront development and new rules for city beaches was a big topic at the March 11 city council meeting including designating an area for pop-up tents at Gulf Place.
“A couple of months back the city purchased this 100-foot wide piece of property which is due south of East Second Street on the beach highway,” Public Works Director Mark Acreman said. “It is contiguous to where our Gulf Place Project phase three is under construction. What this allows us to do is actually modify the existing project and provide a turnout that will actually align with East Second Street.”
Gulf Shores hired traffic engineering firm Skipper Consulting to study patterns there to see if there would be enough traffic flow to justify a signal.
“When you add a turnout to an intersection it’s my advice that we perform a warrant analysis to see if a signal will be required at this intersection,” Acreman said. “This warrant analysis will not only identify the traffic impacts at this intersection but the proposed pedestrian impacts as well.”
Acreman said the new beach access area will attract residents and vacationers on the streets north of the intersection behind Gulf Island Grill and Hooters.
“There’s a large number of residential rental homes north of this area and now with the public beach being available with restroom facilities, the police precinct and additional parking we expect the pedestrian demands at this intersection to increase substantially as well as the traffic demands,” he said. “If it does meet warrant at a later date, I can propose to you guys a professional services agreement to design the actual signals.”
Results of the study will be presented to the Alabama Department of Transportation which must give final permission for a new light since beach road is a state highway.
“ALDOT makes us do these warrant analyses in order to justify the light,” City Administrator Steve Griffin said. “Not just for the vehicles but the pedestrians as well. It was very fortuitous for the council to authorize the acquisition of this property because it does line up with East Second Street.”
Before the extra property was bought the only entrance to the new phase was on the west end and was a right-in and right-out only access.
“Even to have it without the traffic signal to have that exit there is going to be important,” Mayor Robert Craft said. “If it doesn’t warrant out initially it will later as it gets busier on our beach areas. It’s a good addition to the city and we’re excited about it.”
With the addition of the 100-foot lot to Gulf Place as a whole, Director of Recreation and Cultural Affairs Grant Brown said the ordinance regarding regulations there will have to be rewritten to include the new acquisition.
“The current ordinance calls out the entire Gulf Place but does not include that additional 100 feet,” Brown told the council. “That’s important because there are certain regulations that pertain to Gulf Place.”
One of those involves pop-up tents people like to use for shade. They are currently not allowed on any of the city-owned public beaches. A new proposal would allow the tents in areas to the far east and west of Gulf Place so they won’t block the view of the Gulf from the boardwalks and restaurants there including the Hangout.
“We feel like since we do have a tent line established throughout our high-density condominium district that does allow those 10-by10 shade canopies its confusing to the people who come to the public beach areas,” Brown said. “When they get there the shade is set up and unfortunately, we have to have them take it down. Now we can say you can’t have it here but you can take it there.”
Craft said he would like to see a trial run on the tents before fully committing to change the ordinance.
“Is it possible for us to do this as a one-year test and then revisit this next year?” Craft asked. “Let you get through a year and see if it creates more problems than it solves. I think it would be wise for us to approach it that way and make sure we don’t go back to the problems we had in the past.”
Another change included making glass illegal on the beach everywhere in the city on the sand. Currently, it is only banned on public beaches. Others include allowing dogs on leashes at Gulf Place but not on the beach itself, banning tobacco and e-cigarettes from all beaches in the city, allow for ADA motorized vehicles and establishing a tent line throughout the city using the city’s recycling and trash can stations.
During the meeting, the council also:
• Awarded a contract worth $42,300 to Slavin Management Consultants from Norcross, Ga., to study the city’s current job classifications and compensation. Craft said with a dwindling workforce the city needs to be more competitive to attract better candidates when hiring for openings or adding staff.
• Award bids to three companies for vehicle emergency equipment. None of the companies met the bid specifications for all three items so it was decided to bid out to the three individual companies on certain items on which they met bid specifications. Dana Safety Supply was the winner in a $21,000 bid, Emergency Lighting by Haynes for $2,600 and Richard Communications for $10,500.
• Agreed to hire Southern Engineering Solutions to inspect bridges and box culverts in the city for $10,000. The Alabama Department of Transportation requires these inspections every two years.
• Awarded a contract for a new roof on City Hall to Amerson Roofing from Atmore at a low bid of about $138,500.
• Awarded an assembly permit for the South Baldwin Women’s Club for a Gulf Shores Goes Pink event at Fire Station One on Oct. 1.
• Awarded an assembly permit of the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism Sports Commission and the city for the return of the NCAA Sand Volleyball National Championships on May 2-5 at Gulf Place. Set up will begin on April 28.
• Appointed Richard Lamar and David Stewart to fill the open supernumerary positions on the Board of Zonings and Adjustments to replace Erin Kaiser and Craig Olmstead who were both appointed to regular positions on the board.
• Appointed Edgar McKee to a six-year term on Airport Authority to replace Randy McKinney, who chose not serve again.
• Reappointed Linda Bender to a three-year on the Beautification board. Her current term expires on April 9 and she has agreed to serve another term.
• Reappointed Randy Kaiser to a three-year term on the Personnel Board. His current term will expire March 27 and he has agreed to serve another term.