Gulf Shores wants to develop medical campus near airport
A free-standing emergency room in the city will cut drive times to Foley and save lives
By John Mullen
A little strip of land donated to Gulf Shores by the Erie Meyer Foundation will help the city in its quest to develop a medical campus near the intersection of Cotton Creek Road and Highway 59.
During a council work session on May 6, the council discussed a budding partnership with South Baldwin Regional Medical Center to bring a free-standing emergency room to the city to help cut drive times to Foley. Also, during the session, the council discussed adding landscaping personnel to the Recreation Department to maintain the grounds at three schools the city is taking over on June 1.
The donation from the Erie Meyer Foundation will be on the west side of Alabama 59 at 34th Avenue.
“In doing that we are planning a new road network most particularly a new traffic signal that we’ve got under warrant study right now with the highway department,” City Administrator Steve Griffin said. “To do that the signal needs a four-way intersection. The Erie Hall Meyer Foundation property is adjacent to what is now a small gravel road now, 34th Avenue.
“The property that the Meyer is going to donate to the city will provide 44 feet so we’ll have 80 feet of right of way to do a full signal with four connections to it. Highway 59 north and south and 34th Avenue to the west and then the new medical campus road network to the east of it.”
Mayor Robert Craft, speaking at the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber’s First Friday Forum in a state of the city address, said the addition of the emergency will fill a vital need in the community.
“Right now, there is nowhere in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach ambulances can stop,” Craft said. “They have to go all the way to the north side of Foley. They have to get to here from wherever they are, pick us up and then get back. If you’ve got to go to Ono Island or Fort Morgan it’s impossible in a critical situation to take care of them. So having an emergency room in Gulf Shores that serves the island is big because you don’t have near as far to get when you have a real problem.”
If the plan does come to fruition – officials say they are very close on an agreement – Craft said it could include emergency helicopter services.
“We will have a helipad there and a medivac helicopter will have to be there in order to operate that emergency room,” Craft said, “Therefore it can go get you if you are in Fort Morgan, Orange Beach or Ono Island. If you are having a heart issue and need something right now, they can pick you up and take you wherever you need to go.”
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon gave a similar speech at the chamber breakfast and said his city fully supports the clinic and its location.
“It’d be great to have one in Orange Beach but that doesn’t make any sense,” Kennon said. “Right there where it’s at is perfect. It is going to give us service for those with head trauma, heart attacks, strokes, saving 15 to 20 minutes to getting on the table with a doctor in front of you. That’s huge for us.”
His city took a big stride in health care in 2018 when Orange Beach decided to start its own ambulance service. Combined with the new emergency room, Kennon said he was excited at the improvements in island health care.
“Nothing against our previous provider but when they are north of the bridge in the summer it may take 45 minutes to an hour for them to get here to transport,” Kennon said. “We have two ambulances and a backup to get you from your house and in eight to 10 minutes be in the emergency room.”
Gulf Shores School Landscaping
The Parks and Facilities Division of the recreation department currently maintains the grounds landscape at City Hall, the Municipal Annex, Fire Station 1, GSPD, Activity Center, Civic Center, Recreation Center and all parks and sports fields throughout the city. In order to meet the added responsibility of the three campus school grounds, the city is looking to add two workers and buy new equipment for work on the grounds there.
In addition to adding two workers, the city will buy a new truck and other equipment spending about $122,000 for the remainder of 2019.
In other business during the work session:
• Awarding a bid to Sysco to supply concession stand supplies at city sports facilities for $156,000. Last year the city had $312,000 in concession sales. The contract would be for one year with an option for two one-year extensions.
• Allowing the police department to pursue a grant from the School Violence Prevention Program which provides funds to local jurisdictions to enhance the physical security and responder efforts to ensure school safety. The program will provide funds for technology, structural improvements, and certain training relevant to security in schools. The intended request is for $400,000 which will require a match of $100,000.
• Considering joining Foley, Orange Beach and Baldwin County in approving $5,000 to hire Shelter Planners of America to provide a comprehensive needs assessment study for a tri-city-county animal shelter for the southern part of the county.
• Adopting minor changes in the flood damage prevention ordinance per recommendations from the state coordinator of the National Flood Insurance Program.
• Declaring May as National Bike Month with ride to school days set for May 8 and May 17 and ride to work week May 13-19.
• Considering a petition for annexation Taylor’s Riverview Subdivision owned by David and Lisa Keenum. The property and is located at 19074 Pine Acres Road which is off County Road 8 on the west side of Alabama 59.
• Considering an assembly permit for the city’s Fourth of July fireworks show. The council also discussed paying Pyro-Shows about $30,000 to put on the show at the Gulf State Park pier.
• Considering awarding a bid Award bid to Perfect for $23,000 to upgrade recreation management computer software for the Recreation and Cultural Affairs department.
• Considering offering a bid to Jani-King of Mobile to clean city buildings that are used as rental facilities. This service is offered at a fee to renters of the Activity Center, Civic Center, Cultural Center Auditorium and Cultural Center Gym, and includes all of the cleaning responsibilities that are required of the center.