Fairhope Political Graft and Influence Peddling Blocks Public Park Development
|View from entrance to White Ave park.|
"It's politics." Fairhope City Council member Corey Martin replied when asked why development of the park at White Avenue had stalled. The waterfront park would be the latest gift to the City from the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation but its development has been blocked by Mayor Sherry Sullivan.
For the last three years, the FSTC has been designing and planning the renovation of White Avenue Park. It includes a waterfront sidewalk leading south to the park at the end of Nichols Avenue and north to the condominium buildings. This park was returned to the City through what is known as The Parks Deed.
This Deed is what gives the City of Fairhope access to all of the bayfront, pier area and parks all across the City. Should any of these properties fail to be used as parks open to the public, ownership reverts back to the FSTC.
"Can I see that, I haven't seen that before." City Council President Jay Robinson just before the February 27 City Council meeting when shown a rendering of what the proposed park renovation would look like. Robinson later remarked on the drawing in the Council meeting and how it may change with Council input.
|Potential plan for White Ave park.|
The FSTC has changed its design and plan of action on the park over the years based on Mayor Sullivan's remarks during the FSTC's monthly meetings. Mayor Sullivan regularly attends FSTC meetings to give updates on various City projects and to ask for money to fund those projects. The FSTC's most recent donation to the City was $400,000 to fund the new track at Founder's Park.
The FSTC has been waiting on the City to continue the project for months but according to the Director of Public Works, Richard Johnson, the City is ready to go. "I've ordered pipe... I thought we were waiting on Single Tax to approve a budget." Johnson said when asked about the status of the park. Johnson said the City committed to demolition, drainage and grade of the site with the understanding the FSTC's contribution would be the hardscape while the City finished the renovation with planting of the park's greenery.
"We will." Mayor Sullivan said in response to a question asked at a FSTC meeting regarding whether or not the City would mark the boundaries of the park. Mayor Sullivan can be seen shaking her head no to Councilman Martin as he answers the same question at the Feb. 27 Council meeting.
Mayor Sullivan also made comments to the FSTC and its members that the City would enforce City ordinances regarding parking and trash disposal on the property. Currently, the park is used as if it is private property by the adjacent land owners and has been grossly encroached upon with residential development.
|Would be park land encroached by neighboring property owners.|
"In generalities, what I can tell you is that we are looking forward to that being park land as well." Councilman Martin stated at the Feb. 27 Council meeting.
"I do think the plan is and was... for that to be made usable for public purposes for certain. That's something that's gotta be discussed between the City and Single Tax." Council President Jay Robinson stated at the Feb. 27 Council meeting.
|View from White Avenue Pier|
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