Gulf Shores, state team up on Little Lagoon project
53 acres on south shore will be protected from development
By John Mullen
The state is using a BP money awarded through a federal grant and administered by the state to develop the Laguna Cove Little Lagoon Natural Resource Protection project on 53 acres on the south side of Little Lagoon.
The property was previously approved for residential and commercial development including a marina in Little Lagoon.
“There’s been a number of projects who have been looking at that piece of property,” Gulf Shores Spokesman Grant Brown said. “But the Meyer Foundation who owns the land, they’re not in the development business. They are willing to sell it to take it out of development to ensure that it’s not as heavily used and turned into houses and other stuff.”
Gulf Shores is working with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to identify projects that will restore and protect natural resources that were impacted by the spill.
The Laguna Cove project involves the acquisition and protection of 53 undeveloped acres of property located on the south shore of Little Lagoon near the west end of West Beach Boulevard. ADCNR has asked the City to take ownership of the property.
“We’re a very happy recipient to be able to manage a very important piece of our ecology down here,” Brown said. “The west end of Little Lagoon is very sensitive and to be able to manage that huge chunk of lagoon waterfront. It’s a very important piece of property.”
The grant will allow for the purchase of the undeveloped acreage at a cost of about $3 million will provide another $1.4 million for habitat restoration and passive recreational improvements for public use. Gulf Shores will use oversee the construction of boardwalks, parking, restrooms, kayak launch and a fishing pier.
Gulf Shores agreed to fund its portion of the project in November. The total cost of $4.4 million and includes planning, engineering and design, construction, monitoring, operation and maintenance and trustee supervision.
It includes 6,100 feet of shoreline on Little Lagoon and has significant areas of wetlands and other critical habitat. Protection of this important natural area will serve to enhance water quality and habitat for the Little Lagoon watershed.
One of the first tasks, Brown said, will be clearing off debris that has gathered from storms during the years.
“There’s leftover junk and I assume it was from Ivan,” he said. “When you walk the property, there are just chunks of asphalt and things that are not environmentally correct. We need to clean that up.”
Proposed Public Access Amenities
In addition to funding acquisition of the tracts, the project would fund a number of recreational amenities for the enjoyment of the public:
• 65 parking spaces, with split access for the proposed kayak launch and the proposed fishing pier
• Public fishing pier with a ‘T’ at the end and ADA-compliant accessibility
• Public bathhouse and restrooms
• Public boardwalk for viewing or fishing
• Public kayak launch near the edge of the boardwalk