FAIRHOPE — With deed restrictions intended to protect The Triangle as a green space into the future, Fairhope city officials are also moving forward with efforts to design the site as a nature …
FAIRHOPE — With deed restrictions intended to protect The Triangle as a green space into the future, Fairhope city officials are also moving forward with efforts to design the site as a nature park.
The Fairhope City Council voted Monday, Sept. 12, to approve a transfer of property with the Fairhope Single Tax Colony that will set deed restrictions for the 144-acre site. The council also voted to approve contracts for professional landscape services for the site and a contract for master planning and public engagement.
Mayor Sherry Sullivan said the deed restrictions will keep future officials from developing the parcel as anything except a nature park.
"This is something that we've talked about for quite a while now," Sullivan said. "We know that the park lands that have been deeded to us in the past from Single Tax have stood the test of time and we have all collectively talked about how we would like to maintain The Triangle as park lands and as green space. This is just another layer that will allow us to maintain that space. If there was another administration that came in that wanted to change something, they would have to not only go through the city council and the city council approve it, then it would have to go to Single Tax Board and then it could ultimately go to their membership for a vote."
The council approved a list of 14 restrictions.
The prohibitions ban any industrial or commercial use of the property or constructing any buildings other than rest rooms, maintenance facilities or educational structures.
The list also restricts clearing the ground except for building trails or work needed for watershed restoration or carrying out the park management plan.
Another prohibition is planting any non-native vegetation. Councilman Jack Burrell said the list should also allow removing invasive plant species.
"My concern is the popcorn trees and camphor trees are taking over this city and we've got to do something about it," Burrell said. "I don't want to get into an argument 20 years down the road and say that wasn't our intent when they're going to take that parcel over if we don't get them in check."
The two agreements also approved by the council will allow Fairhope to use city money, in addition to the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act funding, to develop plans for the site, Richard Johnson, public works director, said.
"This is just, hopefully, first phase of many, many phases of making The Triangle property a real jewel of the city and a recreational, environmental facility for our citizens and visitors alike and it was very important, I think, to you as the council and definitely to the mayor to make sure that we have not only some master planning included in there as well as some stakeholder engagement and the GOMESA grant doesn't pay for that," Johnson said.
The public engagement and master planning agreement is with Thompson Engineering and Watershed LLC for $29,700.
Christopher Grant of Thompson Engineering and Rebecca Bryant of Watershed told council members that the site is important for both residents and visitors.
"We have a pretty good understanding of this property, and we certainly want to see it put to good use, which is why we have teamed with Rebecca," Grant said. "We want to make this a great project for our community. We also understand this is the front door to our community, so we want to make a good impression, not only to citizens here, but also visitors who come into town."