Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Iconic Clock Corner Cleared of Contaminants

Workers were diligently removing unused fuel from 4 tanks buried underneath pavers on the corner of Fairhope Ave and Section St. 

The largest of the 4 tanks, pictured below being emptied, contained about 20” of remaining fuel making it about halfway full.  

Once completed, the City of Fairhope and the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation will finalize the purchase of the iconic clock corner and it will be added to the Parks Deed deeming it open and public property in perpetuity. 




Thursday, July 23, 2020

Fairhope 2020 Municipal Elections

2020 MUNICIPAL ELECTION CANDIDATE LIST
ALL CANDIDATES ARE AT LARGE
Election Date: August 25th, 2020

MAYOR:

JOHN MANELOS
ANNETTE SANDERS
SHERRY SULLIVAN
KARIN WILSON -(Incumbent)

COUNCIL PLACE NO. 1:

JACK BURRELL -(Incumbent)
DEB HOPKINS

COUNCIL PLACE NO. 2:

COREY A. MARTIN -(Unopposed)

COUNCIL PLACE NO. 3:

JIMMY CONYERS -(Incumbent and Unopposed)

COUNCIL PLACE NO. 4:

ROBERT BROWN -(Incumbent)
HOWELL GIBBENS

COUNCIL PLACE NO. 5:

KEVIN BOONE -(Incumbent)
JOSHUA N. GAMMON

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Fairhope Single Tax Association Monthly Meeting Review


As the Fairhope Single Tax Colony readies for its upcoming monthly meeting, The Fairhope Courier reviews previous meeting notes and a few topics on the agenda for Wednesday's meeting.

    In the March 11, 2020 FSTC membership meeting, Ken Niemeyer expressed several concerns regarding the $6.2m BP RESTORE ACT grant to redevelop the pier and the process behind the decision making of individuals involved. Mr. Niemeyer noted his experience as an invited member of the design focus group hosted by the engineering firm hired by the City to oversee the project.

    Mr. Niemeyer stated the current design from the City would damage the natural appeal of Fairhope's bayfront park. He noted the engineers were developing the plan without visiting the sites in question and did not consider Fairhope's unique history and background. He emphasized the engineer's goal is to spend the entire budget rather than develop specific, character enhancing projects the entire community would benefit from.

    Mr. Niemeyer concluded with noting the City misrepresented the impact of the sewer project at Fels Avenue and Mobile St. by stating there would be no impact to the park or sidewalk, both of which were heavily affected.

    Single Tax Treasurer Michael Upchurch presented a balanced 2020 budget that was adopted by the Board.

    Archives committee chair Catherine King noted that 125 years ago, after overcoming several obstacles, the Colonists were able to dig a well and hit water at 112 ft to provide safe and consistent source of drinking water to the developing community.

    On June's meeting Agenda, the Colony intends to discuss electronic billing, consideration of a new policy charging all non-lessee members a demonstration fee, multiple sidewalk projects and requests, possible approval of new members and reports on Founder's Corner and White Avenue Park.

The next monthly meeting of the Fairhope Single Tax Colony is June 10, 2020 at 6:30pm.
    

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Fairhope City Council Considers Pier Plan


    "Project Engineers, Planners and Landscape Architects for the City of Fairhope... presented a preliminary conceptual plan at the April 27th City Council Work Session. The purpose of the project is to make safe and user-friendly improvements to the 10-acre South Beach Park area (Municipal Pier) to enhance citizens’ use of the waterfront park facilities while ensuring the park’s long-term resiliency and sustainability." according to the City's website. 

    After immense public disapproval after the initial unveiling, the Fairhope City Council considers its options regarding the redevelopment of the city's most prominent public park. Council members noted they had received several complaints about the redesign, with the new parking layout being an especially egregious concern. 

    The City's release about the project states, "Plan development for the South Beach Park Project, thus far, has involved the expertise of professional engineers from a variety of disciplines, key city staff and elected officials, an independent steering committee, and state and federal funding agency representatives.".

    The project is being paid for by the City of Fairhope’s $6.2 million RESTORE (Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies) Act Grant from the U.S. Department of Treasury.
 

City of Fairhope City Council Meeting

  Date: 06/08/2020 5:00 PM  
 Location: Council Chambers

Monday, November 18, 2019

Fairhope Celebrates 125 Years of History


On Friday November 15th, the Fairhope Museum of History held a birthday bash for the Community of Fairhope. Many museum docents and attendees dressed in period fashion and entertained the crowd with their costumes, cake, balloons and countless stories from times past.


Friday, November 15, 2019

Organic School Closes


According to a volunteer at the Marietta Johnson School of Organic Education, the school is no longer in operation for full time classes. The current administration intends to offer after school classes to continue the Organic School tradition.

The last two years of dwindling enrollment and lack of clear leadership led to the end of the 112 year old school.

What happens to the $2mil Trust Fund and $1mil of real estate is yet to be determined.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Fairhope Vacates Land for Personal Gain

"Almost never.", longtime Baldwin County attorney Allan Chason when asked how often a municipality vacates land to a private citizen. However, this is precisely what happened in December 2015 between the City of Fairhope and Dean Mosher. 


Mosher had long been a thorn in the City's side with issues pertaining to development and infrastructure. So when he came to a City Council meeting requesting the end of Oak Avenue be vacated and added to his Fairhope Single Tax leasehold, it raised eyebrows in the audience. What followed was a well rehearsed speech and a quick, unanimous vote with no discussion. 

Planning for that City Council meeting began months before with private discussions between City administration, Mosher and members of the Single Tax Colony. In the November meeting of Single Tax members, Dean stated he had worked a deal with the City to have Oak Ave. given to him and requested it be added to his leasehold instead of becoming an additional parcel and reverting to Colony ownership as precedent stated. 



Ultimately, the land was split between his leasehold and his sister in law's leasehold next door. County records now indicate the end of Oak Ave. has been vacated and the remaining portion is listed as "Not Used". The week after the City Council meeting when the land was given, Mosher walked around the property showing where he planned to build three rental houses while turning his current house into a museum.

As of publication, only current City Council member Robert Brown responded with a comment. He stated he would need more information as this happened before his time on the Council.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

August Single Tax Colony Meeting 2019

Vice President Charles Lake presided over the August meeting due to President Lee Turner's absence. VP Lake brought the meeting to order promptly at 6:30 and began with the Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance.

A moment of silence was held for the memory of Mary Ann Ingersoll who passed on July 10, 2019 and Jenette Clark Pike who passed on July 30, 2019.

Ken Niemeyer presented a thorough report on the progress and planning of the sewage lift station located on Fels Ave. The City is planning to relocate the station in the parklands at the end of Fels and fence off a large area of the park. Mr. Niemeyer has concerns the City is not considering the impact the project will have to the park or residents in the area.

Director Jim Reid immediately followed Mr. Niemeyer with his own exhaustive report on the situation. He noted a few corrections to misconceptions and stated the City may need additional Right of Way clearance on the project. To gain this clearance, the City would need to come ask the Colony for it due to the structuring of the park's deed to the City in 1931.


One of the representatives from the City who came to do a presentation on the planned upgrades to the parking garage, who didn't introduce himself, seemed to take offense at the idea the City would need to ask the Colony for the Right of Way. "Why do we need to ask for permission for something we own?", he asked. Mr. Reid noted that was one of the things he learned while working on his report was that the Fairhope Single Tax Colony is the steward for all of the park land donated by it to the City over the years and therefore, the City is only allowed to use the land as a park. Any other use must be approved by the Colony.

The City representative went on to describe the coming changes to the parking garage located behind the Hampton Inn. The City has received a $1.1m grant to make the alley and parking garage more attractive, better lit and easier to use. It will be called "Arts Alley".


Ecumenical Ministries presented their capital campaign and requested $750,000 in funding. They noted they are celebrating 50 years of service to the Fairhope area.

The Baldwin Pops was on hand to thank the Colony for their previous 20 years of support and to request $2,000 to fund their annual Founder's Day Concert held at Henry George Park on the bluff.



Treasurer Upchurch noted the Colony is in good standing and has started collected revenue for the coming tax bill.

Previous Minutes were approved and monthly transfers accepted.

The Archives Committee reminded everyone of the upcoming Barney Gaston Day on August 24th. It is held the last Sunday of August.

The upcoming class for new member applicants still has a few open positions for those interested in becoming a Colony member.

The Education Committee is producing a newsletter titled, "The Fairhoper" to illustrate the colony to newcomers and update citizens on coming events.

Manager Jennifer Sanford stated the office has received this year's Baldwin County Tax data.

There was no President, Trustee or Secretary reports.

Director Cliff Pitman stated by his calculations, the Colony stood to profit $1m from the development of two unleased parcels of land totaling about 5 acres. He stated it is about time to decide to either develop the properties, or auction them to the highest bidder as the Colony has been known to do in the last 20+ years under his leadership. If the Colony decides not to develop the land, Director Pitman would like to buy the 110 acres Mr. Burmeister owns near the intersection of CR 13 and CR 32.

*The Fairhope Courier would like to note the stark contrast of these actions with the stated purpose of The Fairhope Single Tax Colony. One of the main tenants of philosophy behind the Colony, is to remove the benefit of withholding land from its best use with the intent to profit from the speculation of ever increasing value built by the surrounding community.

The Colony, for the first 90 years of its existence, leased land at no charge to anyone. Over the past 30 years of the current administration, the Colony has profited from the auction of its leaseholds to the highest bidder, in direct violation of its founding principles.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Matilda on the Bluff at Henry George Park


Henry George Park shines while hosting the play Matilda performed by the 
Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre.