Foley approves further downtown improvement projects

By Jessica Vaughn
Posted 11/23/21

FOLEY - City of Foley Mayor Ralph Hellmich recently revealed the city is preparing to perform major downtown improvement projects to city-owned buildings and all city parks. During its Nov. 15 …

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Foley approves further downtown improvement projects

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FOLEY - City of Foley Mayor Ralph Hellmich recently revealed the city is preparing to perform major downtown improvement projects to city-owned buildings and all city parks. During its Nov. 15 meeting, the Foley City Council approved going to bid for a new Comfort Station at John B. Foley Park. The project, which has been in the works for a while, was delayed due to the increased cost of materials and bids received.

“This is not the only one that we’re working on,” said Hellmich. “We’ve also been working for over a year and a half over there at Mel Roberts, so getting folks to bid on these contracts and getting reasonable prices is important. We recently bid a project at Graham Creek and it came in almost double, so we have our fingers crossed. Engineering is working hard to make sure that we get something nice. We’re working on both of these comfort stations, including the one at Graham Creek, but it’s a challenge right now.”

Once the Comfort Station project leaves the design phase, it’s estimated to be completed within two months. The new Comfort Station at John B. Foley Park is one of the proposed projects to be funded through the American Rescue Act. The preliminary cost estimate is $380,662.50. The project was originally budgeted for FY23. If completed using funds from the American Rescue Act, the budgeted project funds in FY23 will be available to put toward other future projects, officials said.

Another downtown location that is receiving upgrades through the FY22 American Rescue Plan Grant Program is the Foley Public Library. Foley City Council voted to accept the IMLS Award during the same meeting. The grant awarded $17,582 to the library to increase digital eBook availability and to purchase additional hotspot internet devices. There is a 50/50 match with the grant.

“Over the last couple of months alone, we’ve gotten a little over $50,000 in grants to buy materials of one sort or another,” said Library Director John Jackson. “This will give us 45 hotspots which will eliminate a lot of the long lines waiting on those. This community really needs more than that, because when we had only 15 there were 60 people waiting for a hotspot to open up so they could check it out. This will drop it down to probably under 20 people waiting, and that helps a lot. That goes along with our mission to try to serve the community.”

Going forward, the city plans to continue major upgrades to the downtown area, including a modernization of all city parks. To further this, a survey is open on the city’s website that allows citizens to give suggestions on what they’d like to see at the various parks.

“All of our parks need modernizing, and we’re looking at everything from hiking trails to additional courts, to expanding the little league football practice facility,” Hellmich said. “That survey is on the website now, we’re getting people filling it out. We’re trying to get public feedback and we will have a public meeting at some point in the future to allow people to do it the old-fashioned way, where they can look at the maps and put sticky notes on them, but this is part of the council and mayor’s plan to update our parks.”

Hellmich said more projects are in line to be brought before the council for approval soon. These include roadway improvements, quality of life projects, and drainage projects.

“We’re just going to keep bringing those to the council, and all the time we’re looking for grant money to leverage our money to help us do more projects and do things better,” said Hellmich. “There’s a lot going on in Foley right now.”

You can find the survey at www.foleyrecreation.com/Planning.aspx.