Fairhope ready to move forward on Triangle nature center park

By Guy Busby, Government Editor, guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 3/9/22

FAIRHOPE — Plans to develop a Fairhope nature center park on the Triangle property are moving on schedule, and city officials hope to open the facility within a year.

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Fairhope ready to move forward on Triangle nature center park

Posted

FAIRHOPE — Plans to develop a Fairhope nature center park on the Triangle property are moving on schedule, and city officials hope to open the facility within a year.

The Fairhope City Council voted Friday, March 4, to enter into an agreement with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources which will allow the city to accept $999,989 in a grant through the federal Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, known as GOMESA.

The money will be used to develop the 70-acre site as a municipal nature park located at the intersections of U.S. 98, Alabama 194 and Veterans Drive.

Mayor Sherry Sullivan said that after several years of effort, city officials are ready to start work on the site.

"We sign this agreement, put it out for bid, technically, depending on the bid timeline and whatever contractor is chosen and supply chain and all that kind of stuff, how quickly we can move, I would say that easily by this time next year, we'll be doing a ribbon cutting at that park," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the next step will be designing the park.

"We're already working on that bid," Sullivan said. "Hopefully, it'll hit the street pretty quickly. Soliciting a landscape architect or somebody to do the trailhead, the restroom facility, to identify where the trails should be, all the programs we want to do in that park."

"This is just the first step in really creating some trails through there and creating another green space for our residents and visitors to use," the mayor added.

The project proposal includes a 72-foot pedestrian tunnel to provide access to the park, rest rooms, a trail head kiosk with a bicycle repair station and walking trails with bridges and boardwalks.
City Council President Jimmy Conyers said he was pleased that the city has reached the point of being able to go out for bids on the project.

"I think this is a project that everybody in town will be excited about, but I know the wheels of progress move slowly in government," Conyers said. "I'm glad to see this one moving forward."

Councilman Jack Burrell also said residents and officials have been waiting a long time to reach this point.

"I just want to say sometimes good things come to those who wait, and we've been very patient," Burrell said.

Fairhope bought the property in 2014 after a legal dispute with the owners of the site over the development of the parcel. The city paid $8.75 million for the property after the owners sued Fairhope over being denied permission to develop the site.

For more than two years, officials and residents have debated the best use for the property and how to preserve the natural environment of the site.

In 2021, the council approved a plan to deed the parcel to the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation, which would deed the site back to the city with deed restrictions to preserve the property's natural setting.

The GOMESA program provides money from offshore oil and gas production to states that allow drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fairhope, Triangle, park

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