Fairhope preparing plans for Triangle

By GUY BUSBY
Government Editor
guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 8/31/22

FAIRHOPE — A walking trail for disabled visitors is among the plans for Fairhope's Triangle property when the parcel becomes a municipal nature park.The Fairhope City Council voted Monday, Aug. …

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Fairhope preparing plans for Triangle

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FAIRHOPE — A walking trail for disabled visitors is among the plans for Fairhope's Triangle property when the parcel becomes a municipal nature park.

The Fairhope City Council voted Monday, Aug. 22, to apply for a grant through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to build the half-mile trail. Richard Johnson, public works director, said the work would be in addition to the plans being paid for through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, known as GOMESA.

"This is an opportunity for a recreational trails grant, which would be a companion project to the GOMESA project at the Triangle to add a small half-mile ADA compliant interior trail loop for all accessibility there," Johnson said.

Fairhope received almost $1 million in GOMESA funding to develop the 108-acre site as a nature park.

At the Aug. 22 meeting, the council also discussed deed restrictions to ensure that the site remains a nature park and is never developed. Under the plan, the city would give the site to the Fairhope Single Tax Colony, which would give the land back to the city with deed restrictions requiring that the site be a nature park.

Mayor Sherry Sullivan said city officials are going over the restrictions before the council votes on the plan.

"Any commercial or industrial use of the property, obviously, we know that's not going to happen," Sullivan said. "The construction or placement of any buildings other than restroom facilities, we had talked about what if we wanted an outdoor classroom or something to that extent. So, there were just a few things that we felt that we needed to define a little bit more or we needed to be a bit broader on to make sure we're not being too restrictive."

She said engineers are working on plans for the site.

"Now that we're working with the design team, we have a good idea of what we want to see on those parcels as far as trails and different things," Sullivan said. "I think that we're probably in a better position now to review these and make some recommendations than we were before."

Sullivan said having deed restrictions would provide an extra layer of protection to keep the property from being developed in the future.

"If you do that with Single Tax it requires a vote of their body to overturn what the board does. So, it gives you that extra layer of protection in order for it to stay park lands," Sullivan said. "It would take a vote of their whole membership in order to overturn it as well."

She said the plan is similar to the deed restrictions worked out to protect the bluff property overlooking Mobile Bay.

Councilman Jack Burrell said the restrictions would help protect the Triangle property.

"I agree that we need to do whatever we can to keep it park land forever," Burrell said. "It may sound selfish, but we don't want a future council to overturn what we've done in trying to protect it."

Council President Jimmy Conyers said the deed restrictions would also allow Fairhope to retain more control over the property than giving an outside agency a conservation easement for the site.

"I think this would accomplish what we would accomplish with a conservation easement, but it gives us a little more flexibility to do what we want to do down there," Conyers said.

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