FAIRHOPE — Fairhope officials set out goals for the upcoming year and discussed the work completed in 2022, but one accomplishment celebrated at the State of the City took place more than 500 …
FAIRHOPE — Fairhope officials set out goals for the upcoming year and discussed the work completed in 2022, but one accomplishment celebrated at the State of the City took place more than 500 miles away.
On Thursday, Jan. 26, a delegation from Wauchula, Florida, presented the city with a plaque thanking Fairhope utility workers for their help after Hurricane Ian struck the Florida community southeast of Tampa. Olivia Minshew, Wauchula deputy city manager, said Fairhope crews arrived soon after the storm and helped restore electrical power and make other repairs.
"In late September this past year, the city of Wauchula — we are a small rural community in central Florida — had Hurricane Ian come through our town late Wednesday evening into Thursday morning," Minshew said. "By Friday afternoon by 3 o'clock, your crew rolled into our town and
immediately went to work. They stayed with us for a full week and helped rebuild our community as quickly as possible, as safely as possible and did a quality job."
"Our line superintendent is very critical. He expects a lot, high quality, and they received nothing but praise and you should be very proud of your team here," she added.
At the State of the City event in the Fairhope Civic Center, city council members, utility employees and staff members from other departments set up displays and spoke with residents about the services that the city provides. Mayor Sherry Sullivan said the event allows residents to interact with the city employees who provide municipal services.
The mayor said the city completed several major projects in the last year.
"We completed the Church Street infrastructure project, which I know the people in downtown were happy about that," Sullivan said. "They're finishing up a few punch list items, and they'll start the striping and then that will be completed."
She said the city also built new turn lanes at the intersection of Twin Beech Road and U.S. 98 and will soon complete turn lanes at Gayfer Avenue. Fairhope also completed 4.7 miles of road resurfacing projects.
Another project finished in 2022 was the North Summit Street gully stabilization.
In 2022, the city completed work improving electrical substations. The Nichols Street substation is now on line and the substation on Morphy Avenue is 90 % complete, Sullivan said.
Projects planned for 2023 include $43 million in continued utility upgrades, part of the more than $130 million city budget passed in September, Sullivan said.
The budget also includes 37 new positions in utilities and general government, including seven new positions in the police department, nine in public works, 10 in water and wastewater.
She said infrastructure will continue to be a priority.
"We have $1 million in resurfacing and drainage projects," Sullivan said. "We have $1 million in traffic improvements and projects, which includes the Arts Alley in Fairhope. We're going to be putting sidewalks on Fairwood. The engineering for the roundabout on Veterans Drive."
She said work is starting to create a nature park and education center on the Triangle property on the north side of the city.
"We continue to make investments in quality-of-life projects, things we know people want to see, especially in recreation," Sullivan said. "We found during COVID-19 as more and more people wanted to get out and about and they didn't want to be in group settings like this that the outdoor trails and parks and recreation became a priority for everybody."
Other planned projects include renovations at the K-1 Center, a courtyard at the city clock site at the intersection of Fairhope Avenue and Section Street and renovations at the Fairhope Public Library.
Sullivan said the city's accomplishments in the last year are due to the work of council members and workers.
"All these projects that we do are not possible without the city council. They approve the funding," Sullivan said. "They're great to have just for me to bounce things off of, but they really do a great job representing you, so you should be proud to have them. Also, the staff, they are the heartbeat of our city, they work really hard for our citizens and put in a lot of time away from their families to make sure things get taken care of."