Preliminary work to start Laguna Cove Nature Preserve

Preliminary work to start Laguna Cove Nature Preserve
By John Mullen
Gulf Shores City Council OK’d a $130,000 contract to an engineering firm to do the preliminary work on the Laguna Cove-Little Lagoon Natural Resources protection project at its April 13 virtual meeting.
The contract for the Laguna Cove project will get the ball rolling on the new project which is going on property once planned for a condo development with a marina.
“This is authorizing a professional services agreement with Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood to provide engineering, architectural and inspection services as required to design and permit various improvements,” City Engineer Mark Acreman said. “This is located almost at the end of West Beach Boulevard right before you get to Laguna Key.”
Gulf Shores bought the 53-acre tract with help from a Natural Resource Damage Assessment grant from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The city is required by the terms of the grant to conserve and restore the natural resources on the land and provide passive outdoor recreation.
There are 6,100 feet of shoreline on the tract with significant wetlands and other critical habitat. Along with restoration of habitat and wetland the project will also include public restrooms, low-impact public parking, kayaking access, birding and interpretive boardwalks.
“Protection of this important natural area will serve to enhance water quality and habitat for the Little Lagoon watershed while providing public recreation opportunities,” Mark Acreman said. “We’re really trying to connect the user with nature. That’s the whole purpose of this project.”
The public will be asked for input on the project in several planned meetings.
“We’re going to invite the community to come to a centralized location where we can get their input as to what the final product will look like for this project,” Acreman said. “We don’t have anything set yet. We’ve just got elements we’ve got to include so what the final form of those elements will be will come from a direct response from community involvement. The adjacent property owners will be invited along with the rest of the community to give their input into this development.”
Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood were selected by scoring the highest after the city advertised a request for qualifications from qualified firms. The $130,000 will initially come from the city budget but will be 100 percent reimbursed by the NRDA grant. The cost of the complete project is about $4.4 million with the grant covering $3 million for purchasing the property and $1.4 million for habitat rehabilitation.
During the meeting, the council also:
• Re-appointed Kelly Walker to the Gulf Shores City Board of Education for a term of five years. Her current term is set to expire in December.
• Re-appointed Gary Ellis of Gulf State Park and Jarrett Myers of Paradise Marine to Public Parks and Recreation Board. Each will serve another four-year term ending on March 28, 2024.
• Re-appointed Judge Frank Hollon to a two-year term as the Municipal Court Judge and Ken Raines for a two-year term as city prosecutor.

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