G.S. City Council applauds staff for effort during NCAA Volleyball & State Track Championship weekend
By John Mullen
Gulf Shores officials were all aglow May 7 after a stunning weekend hosting two important sporting events.
The word “extraordinary” was bandied about several times as Mayor Robert Craft opened the city council work session. Also, during the work session, officials announced the school board’s intention to nominate board member Dale Jernigan to a full five-year term to serve the new city system.
“I want to talk about what an extraordinary weekend we had here with the NCAA beach volleyball championships here plus the state championship track meet,” Craft said. “We had an extraordinary effort by our people here. Our fire and police were present at both areas to make sure everybody was okay and safe and taken care of. We had our parks and recreation we had an extraordinary group working the track meet that was Brigette (Reynolds) and Grant (Brown) and Matt (Young) and Jeff Hopkins were out there running it the whole time.”
Gulf Shores was the site for the NCAA championship for the third straight year and will be the site through 2022. Herb Malone of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism hopes to land the four-day event indefinitely.
“I told them the same thing we told them last year,” Malone told the council. “We want to be the Omaha of beach volleyball.”
Each summer Omaha, Neb., is home to the NCAA baseball national championship tournament. And it’s not going anywhere.
“They play there every year,” Craft said. “They don’t put it out for bid, they host it every year and that’s a goal we’d like to have.”
If the recap meeting with NCAA and ESPN officials is any indicator, the city may be well on its way to accomplishing that goal.
“The buzz in the room was about the future was what the majority of that meeting was about,” Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director Grant Brown said. “ESPN wants to bring in more cameras. They actually had the Monday Night Football crew in town. That’s the best of the best. The conversation of all of us, we’re all pushing in the same direction. That’s to get more viewership, more attendance. Attendance was up this year all three days.”
Malone said crews from both ESPN and the NCAA left town impressed with how the event went off.
“The man, Dave Carstenson, in charge of the officials, he said he had goosebumps about 10 times during the weekend he was so proud of the way the things were working and flowing,” Malone said. “When it came my time to talk I told him I had twice as many goosebumps.”
Another component to the tournament weekend is a junior tournament set up to the west of the main NCAA event, a popular event led by Gulf Coast Volleyball’s Philip Bryant.
“There were 286 youth tournament players from as far away as Texas, Ohio, California,” Brown said. “Just an unbelievable response to our junior tournament.”
Craft said to combined exposure of TV coverage and an influx of young families is an invaluable asset for the city’s future.
“To see our beaches on ESPN, on the big network, which was nationwide on Sunday, is tremendous,” Craft said. “The introduction to the world through video and to the young adults that we’re seeing come in there is important, too. Add in Philip’s families coming in with their kids we’re just creating new generations of Gulf Shores fans. And we’re delighted to be able to do that.”
By state law, new school board members are appointed in staggered terms from one to five years, Economic Development Coordinator Blake Phelps told the council. Also, by state law terms are automatically up at the end May in the year they are set to expire.
Member Dale Jernigan was appointed to the one-year term and her’s will be the first to expire. Phelps said the board intends to ask the city council to appoint her to a full five-year term during the May 14 regular session.
Corcoran was initially appointed to a five-year term, Dr. Nichole Gotschall was appointed for four years, Kelly Walker for three years and Dr. Ralph Gold for two years.
Council also discussed:
• Beginning work on the Gulf Place Revitalization Project’s final phase of a new beachfront area east of the Phoenix All-Suites hotel. This phase will add parking, a boardwalk, a public area, restroom building and dune walkovers for beach access.
• Transferring $222,000 to the Gulf Shores School Board for operating expenses through Sept. 30. The money will come from the $2 million appropriated in the 2018 budget for school expenses. The council will later discuss funding the beginning of the fiscal year Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. The school system will operate its fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019. The city uses the calendar year for its fiscal year.
• Changing the zoning of two parcels of land from residential to open space. One is 392 acres at the end of West Canal Drive and the other is 465 acres to use the area for to preserve and maintain lands for outdoor recreation, parks, and related activities, both public and private. The city received a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to buy the property and the rezoning fulfills the requirements of the grant.
• A land swap between the city and Truland of land at Bayou Village’s request to add 23 parking spaces behind the former Dairy Queen building on Windmill Drive. Bayou Village is at the northwest corner of Alabama 59 and Windmill Drive and is anchored by the Original Oyster House.
• Awarding a mosquito control products bid to Target Specialty Products and Red River Specialties to help with mosquito control in the city.
• Awarding a non-exclusive franchise to Suncoast Beach Services Inc. and authorizing the Mayor to execute a contract for a term of three years with two optional one-year extensions. The city will receive 25 percent of the gross revenue from Suncoast.
• Transfer of a liquor license from Tequila Mexican Restaurant to Lozano which will continue to operate under the same name. A public hearing was set for May 14 on the change.
• Amending an ordinance to allow for the operation of ultralight and powered parachutes at Jack Edwards National Airport in the city.
• A 40-year lease for a half acre of land at the airport for Jetwinds to construct a 12,000-foot hangar to house corporate aircraft. The company has six 90 days to submit a construction plan for approval, start construction within six months of approval and finish construction in 24 months.
• A license and operating agreement between the airport board and No Drag Aviation Detailing Company for 12 months. The board will receive 2 percent of the gross revenue generated by the company and must have insurance to operate on the airport property.
• A license and operating agreement between the airport board and Southern Sky Aviation maintenance company to operate a kiosk in the main terminal building. The agreement is for 12 months and the airport will receive 2 percent of gross revenues from the business.
• Reappointing Cheryl Searcy and Tom Boyer to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Both terms expire on May 18 and both have asked to be reappointed.