City buys Oyster Bay-Hugger’s Landing Fire House on County Rd. 6
SAFER grant will help pay for six firefighters to work out of the station
By John Mullen
Call it good timing.
The City of Gulf Shores is acquiring a new station in the northern part of the city and recently announced a new federal grant to help staff it.
Gulf Shores Fire Department was awarded a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and is awarded by the Department of Homeland Security. During the three years of the grant, the city will provide 25 percent of the cost to hire six firemen the first two years and 65 percent in the third year. After the third year the city completely takes over the pay and benefits for the new firemen.
The total cost to the city will be about $394,500 and the federal share will be about $640,000.
At the same time, the city is buying the Oyster Bay-Huggers landing station on County Road 6 west of Alabama 59. The city will pay $190,000 for the building according the city documents.
“Buying that station up there is going to tie into this because we need those individuals to staff that station full time,” Deputy Fire Chief Keith Martin said.
Gulf Shores already has two men stationed at the Oyster Bay-Hugger’s Landing facility in a mutual aid agreement with the volunteer department.
“One, it was helping the citizens up in that north Gulf Shores in the County Road 6 area,” Martin said. “Oyster Bay is a volunteer department and it was hard for them to get people to respond during the day so we did a mutual aid agreement. We’re going to put people in your station and respond to the calls in your area along with ours. Their response area is within our police jurisdiction. It’s nothing we’re doing extra.”
Chief Hartly Brokenshaw said a recent annexation of the area were the station is location also played a part in buying the station.
“It cut their need for that station and we were already running mutual aid with them so they saw they really didn’t need that station anymore,” Brokenshaw said. “Right now, we’re in it anyway and we’re functioning right now. when becomes our station, of course, we can do improvements on it within the next couple of years.”
The station and adding the firemen is needed to keep up with growth in Gulf Shores and to be able to provide services when the town is full of tourists in the busy season.
“Our long-term plan was to do this and the city council was aware and knew we needed new staff,” Martin said. “We’re getting bigger and we were going to try to hire at least two people a year over the next couple of years so that we can meet this growing demand. But we needed the people now. Having this grant allows us to basically jump ahead three years, four years even, and have what we need now instead of having to build to it. It’s really good timing for this grant.”
And, all of the stations will be fully staffed.
“As it was we had two people at that station and now we’re going to have three at that station at all times,” Brokenshaw said. “All of our stations now will have at least three people.”
This is the third SAFER grant used by the city to add firemen. The city added 12 to the department in both 2005 and 2007 with the grant totals each more than $1.2 million.
The department currently has a station in downtown, west beach, to the west on Fort Morgan Road and now at Oyster Bay-Huggers Landing.
In other business, the council also:
• OK’d a liquor license for the The Lodge at Gulf State Park a Hilton Hotel for the operator Valor Beverage Management.
• Declared certain items surplus and donated 25 bicycles to the Christian Service Center. Among the items in the fall surplus are five automobiles, there all-terrain vehicles, a kayak and a 70-inch TV. Items will be auctioned through govdeals.com beginning Oct. 15 and ending on Oct. 29.
• Transferred ownership of three surplus Ford buses to the Lee-Russell Council of Governments. Since the city acquired busses through an ALDOT Grant in 2007 with an 80-20 match the Alabama Department of Transportation had to approve the transfer. The state agency recently approved the surplus and transfer of the buses.
• Approved a conditional use permit for 50 private parking spaces on West Beach Boulevard between Ike’s Beach Service on the east and Pier 33 Grocery on the west. Ike’s and surrounding condos would have access to the site and it would not be for public use.
• Approved an addition to the zoning ordinance with a new R-1-5A to address a large difference between R-1-4 zoning with an 11,000 square foot lot size minimum and R-1-5 zoning which has a 6,000 minimum. The new R-1-5A will require an 8,000 square foot limit.
• Awarded a bid for new Christmas decorations and enhancements to current decorations to Mosca Design on a per piece price. Mosca had the lowest bid at about $26,500.
• Approved assembly permits for the for Big Beach Brewing for a cross-fit beach fitness competition on Oct. 20, Hangout Oyster Cook-Off and Craft Beer Weekend on Nov. 2-3, for the National Junior College half marathon national championship on N