$12.4 million RESTORE grant to fund Eco Center Phase 2
By John Mullen
Gulf Shores will soon get a RESTORE Act payday to the tune of about $12.4 million for phase two construction of the Gulf Coast Center for Ecotourism & Sustainability.
At the May 16 work session, the council discussed authorizing the mayor to accept the grant processed through the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
“The City was recently awarded $8.8 million in RESTORE funding for the construction of a facility that will support ecotourism and environmental education in the Gulf Coast region as part of the initial Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council Multi-year Implementation Plan,” city documents say.
In addition to the $8.8 million first grant, the city requested another $3.6 million and once it is approved it will bring it up to the $12.4 total.
“The new Eco Center facility will house a range of programs for students from school districts within the region, as well as summer and weekend programs that benefit the local economy and encourage responsible tourism,” city documents state.
Phase one of the project was the design phase and the city used a $1 million in RESTORE money.
At its May 2 work session, the city discussed two proposals to begin the process of building a new $ 3 million Justice Center on Cotton Creek Drive at Medical Village Boulevard, a new road cut from Cotton Creek to the new freestanding emergency room.
“This new facility will combine the police department, jail and municipal courts under one roof,” city documents state. “This project will provide significant enhancements for the police department, providing a modern up-to-date facility that will adequately fulfill the needs of the department.”
That $3 million will be in the form of two contracts to prepare design, construction and bid documents for the new center. One contract for about $2 million will go to Police Facility Design Group and a second for $910,000 to Volkert to assist with scheduling, design management, construction management and coordination.
Gulf Shores advertised a request for qualifications in January seeking proposals for design services for the new Justice Center. By March the city had received qualification information on 11 firms and a team made up of members from the Engineering Department, Police Department, Planning and Zoning and the executive office selected Police Facility Design Group as the architect.
During the May 16 session, council also discussed:
• Liquor licenses for High Tide Daiquiris and Mimosas and Miso Seafood. High Tide is located at 807 Gulf Shores Parkway on the east end of Little Lagoon and Miso is located at 160 Cotton Creek Drive in the same shopping center as Chicken Salad Chick.
• Giving $100,000 to the Baldwin Regional Workforce Development Authority to help with planning for the South Baldwin Workforce Development Campus. (See Page 32 story).
• Authorizing the mayor to purchase 23 acres on Bon Secour Bay to be used for conservation and environmental education programs with Gulf Shores City Schools and the Gulf Coast Center for Ecotourism. The city would pay about $800,000 for the property plus closing costs. The property includes more the half of the shoreline in Ewing Bayou as well as frontage on Bon Secour Bay.
• Accepting the donation to the city of 37 acres and its inclusion in the city’s Oyster Bay and Bon Secour Wetland restoration area. The property abuts the 370-acre Oyster Bay Nature Preserve.
• Approving the bid for emergency equipment for the police department from Dana Safety Supply for about $51,000.
• A resolution renewing the contract with PerfectMind for another three years for recreation management software services. By going with the three-year term, the city would pay $48,750 versus renewing it annually at a total cost of $73,250, according to city documents.
During the May 2 session, council also discussed:
• A restaurant liquor license for the Boozy Butcher located on Fort Morgan Road.
• Awarding a contract to American Tennis Courts to build 12 lighted pickleball courts for $744,369. There is $600,000 budgeted for the project including a $391,000 commitment from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. An additional $35,000 will be needed for landscaping.
• Accepting a proposal from Engineering Design Group to design phase I of the north-south connector road between Raley Farms and Stonegate subdivisions. The $70,000 will include a topographical survey, geotechnical investigation, civil construction documents, bidding administration, construction administration and ADEM permitting. Work is scheduled to begin later this year and be completed in 2023. This cost represents 4 percent of the total project which is estimated to be about $1.7 million.
• Amending the 2022 budget to reflect new estimates for revenue and adding expenses due to supply-chain issues. Several items budgeted and ordered in 2021 still have not been received and some came back with higher prices.
• Proclaiming May 23-30 as National Beach Safety Week.
• Assembly permits for the Haunted Hustle 5K and Witches Ride on Oct. 22 and the Phinman Youth Triathlon on May 28.
• Annexing five lots on Marble Court in the Granite Cove subdivision off of County Road 8 West.
• A conditional use permit to construct a 51-space private parking lot at 19826 W. 36th Ave.
During its April session, council discussed:
• A lease agreement between the airport authority and Kevin Blalock to lease land and construct a 90-by-90 hangar at the airport. The contract will net the authority more than $6,700 annually if the council OKs the deal.
• A liquor license for Shrimpy’s Grill and Golf on East Second Avenue near Mikee’s Seafood.
• Awarding a bid for streets resurfacing to H. O. Weaver & Sons which submitted the lowest conforming bid at $527,591. Streets on the list for resurfacing in 2022 include St. Andrews Drive East, Pinehurst Drive, Pinehurst Circle, Lyman Boulevard, Millhouse Road, Beatrice Road, Treasure Oaks Court, Millhouse Court and Coast Oaks Court.
• Awarding a taxi franchise to Blue Dolphin Taxi.
• Amending the golf cart ordinance to add access by carts on 10 streets in the Gulf Wood Highlands subdivision. These include Hilltop Drive, 14th Avenue, Yupon Drive, Oak Ridge Drive, 13th Avenue, Sunset Drive, Magnolia Drive, 12th Avenue, West Second Street and West First Street.
• Conducting a feasibility study for neighborhood streetscape enhancements in the Gulf Pines neighborhood. Public Works Director Noel Hand is expected to recommend a contract with Volkert for $127,000 for services that will include a topographic field survey and a public involvement fee.
• An assembly permit for Doc’s Hot Trot for ARC at LuLu’s on June 18.
• Assembly permits for the Music at Meyer Summer Series on June 16, July 21 and Aug. 18.
• An assembly permit for S’mores on the Shore at West Gulf Place on May 26 and Aug 4 at 6 p.m. The city will provide music, firepits and all the fixings.