FAIRHOPE — City officials are considering updating rules for downtown Mardi Gras celebrations including changing or eliminating long-term RV parking during the parade season.At a Fairhope City …
FAIRHOPE — City officials are considering updating rules for downtown Mardi Gras celebrations including changing or eliminating long-term RV parking during the parade season.
At a Fairhope City Council work session Monday, Jan. 23, Police Chief Stephanie Hollinghead said areas designated for RVs could be used for needed parking for handicapped parade viewers.
"One of the things that we're looking at that we're trying to fix is our handicapped parking," Hollinghead said. "Where the RVs are currently, that takes up about 70 parking spots in that area."
She said the city has received complaints about the RVs and activities at the site.
"We've had some issues in the past," Hollinghead said. "We get noise complaints. We get alcohol on city property, trash, littering. We've got fire pits. They're not supposed to have fire pits, and we respond to fire pits, pulling barricades, shutting down the roads."
Hollinghead said that while the city might not have time to change regulations for the 2023 season, officials need to make plans for the future.
"Originally, we would like to have had this taken care of before the Mardi Gras season," she said. "I know that we're two weeks out, but it's something that I would at least like for y'all to consider for this Mardi Gras, but if not, we definitely need to have further discussion to try to get this fixed for next season."
City Council President Jay Robinson said that while the city approved allowing RVs during Mardi Gras season about five years ago, officials may need to reconsider the move.
"There's multiple factors to look at and whether or not this is something we should continue," Robinson said. "Obviously, when this was brought up and enacted in 2018, I think it was seen as a good thing, as an amenity for locals in Fairhope during the Mardi Gras season and generated a little bit of revenue and was seen, I think, really as a non-issue, and obviously as it grows and we grow there are some things that complicate it a little bit more."
Hollinghead said the city has 14 parking areas designated for RVs in the parking lot behind Julwin's restaurant. She said about nine slots are rented in most years, generating about $3,500 in rental fees.
Council members did not take action on the issue at the meeting. Mayor Sherry Sullivan said the city will look over the request and other issues related to Mardi Gras after the end of the 2023 Carnival season.
Councilman Jimmy Conyers said he would consider changes to city regulations but would like more time to consider the proposals.
"Maybe we could have the discussion in March right after Mardi Gras and then decide if we're going to do this next year or not," Conyers said. "I'd be in favor of changing it, but I just don't want to do it at the last minute."