From left are Beach Safety Director Brett Lesinger, Lifeguard of the Year Johnny Menke and Mayor Tony Kennon.
At the Sept. 11 city council meeting Johnny Menke was announced as the 2018 Lifeguard of the Year. From left are Beach Safety Director Brett Lesinger, Menke and Mayor Tony Kennon. Orange Beach Photo by Marc Anderson.

Logo of the City of Orange Beach, Alabama.By John Mullen

September 13, 2018 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA®) – With the new Orange Beach High School and Middle School being built at the former wastewater treatment site it put the squeeze on the Public Works Department located at the eastern edge of that property.

On Sept. 11 the city agreed to buy $2.1 million for 56 acres on Powerline Road from Georgene Connor to build a new Public Works complex.

“It’s next to Powerline Road and 23 acres of it is dry which is all that matters,” Mayor Tony Kennon said. “We will now be able to use and move Public Works there and be able to keep it on the south side of the canal which is where we think it needs to be.”

Also, during the meeting, the council accepted a bid of $29,000 from Modern Signs for a new digital sign for the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach. The council also promised resident Tem Blalock they would act, if necessary, to dim or redirect new lights at Zeke’s Landing Marina that are blinding to residents along the north side of Cotton Bayou.

The council also finalized the takeover of Canal Road from the state from Doc’s to Perdido Gate. The city will net almost $3 million from the takeover, some of it from the Alabama Department of Transportation.

“Which means we are able to do a lot more that we deem needs done on Canal,” Kennon said. “They gave us $650,000 in cash for taking it over which gives us about 15 to 17 years of maintenance cost.”

Soon the city hopes to begin adding a third center lane from Doc’s to Wilson Boulevard or to the recreation complex.

“We’ve got $1.9 million from the RESTORE Act to three-lane it with a roundabout at the arts center/library for a U-turn and to repave it,” Kennon said. “So we have about 30 years of maintenance including all that cash and all the improvements at no cost to the city. I think we got a pretty good deal on that.”

New sign for the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach.ARTS CENTER SIGN

On the arts center sign, this was the second time a round of bids came before the council. Earlier this year the council decided to reject bids for signs that would have cost about $15,000 to maybe spend a little more money for a sign with more features.

“We put out a very generic bid,” Arts Center Director Desiree Blackwell said. “We went to two lines of amber, digital straight and a bid that includes full color. You might want to look at those and talk about what your desire is for the look and feel for this.”

The generic bid left the council with many options to choose and it came close to rejection and rebidding yet again. Kennon wanted none of that.

“What I don’t like is we’ve been talking about this forever, one minute this, one minute that and it’s time to make up our mind and move on,” Kennon said. “You want digital or you don’t, you want yellow and blue or you don’t. Let’s make up our minds one way or another. My suggestion is we have a sign with no electronics or we do it all the way.”

In the end, the council voted to go with the Modern Sign bid with a full-color digital display for about $29,000.

“I like what I’m seeing with the full color,” Councilman Jerry Johnson said. “You’ll have high school groups come in from out of town, you’ll have the Hot Shop event and there needs to be something out there to let people know what’s going on at the arts center.”

COTTON BAYOU LIGHTS

The new lighting at Zeke’s put in by the new owners were talked about in council chambers about two months and one of the new owners, Lynn Swafford, said they would work with neighbors to correct the brightness.

“They are still on at Cotton Bayou,” Blalock told the council. “I took pictures of when the lights first came on and it’s still daylight and took pictures at night. I suggested to put some lampshades on them or point them down. It’s gone on too long. I would like the city to give them a timeline to get them to do that. She said they wanted to be good neighbors so they’ve got to do something.”

Kennon said he had hoped the owners and residents would have worked something out by now “but if we need to intervene we will.”

Orange Beach Director of Community Development Kit Alexander.
Kit Alexander

Blalock said he, too, was hopeful to work out a solution “but it’s been over two months.”

Community Development Director Kit Alexander said there are rules in the zoning ordinance that restricts the amount of light that can shine outside of property limits.

“I spoke directly to the owners and partners of the marina,” Alexander said. “Give us a chance to find out what the holdup is. There was an assurance that it was going to be addressed. Let me get an update and say this came up in council. A lot of times when they hear it’s been discussed in council it gives them an impetus to do something. And, we’ll mention the zoning ordinance and we’re going to say we don’t want to have to pursue.”

In the regular session, the council also:

  • Approved a retail liquor license for Perdido Queen cruises at Hudson Marina and special event liquor license for Bayes Southern Bar and Grill for 2018 Bike Ride on Sept. 15 and a special event liquor license for Luna’s Eat & Drink for the Nauticstar Boat Show and Dealer meeting Oct. 7-8 at the Orange Beach Event Center.
  • Approved a resolution appropriating funds for a community document shredding event to the Orange Beach Lions Club in the amount of $500.

During the work session the council also discussed:

  • A resolution authorizing the purchase of a vehicle for the Police Department from State Bid in the amount of $35,283.54 to replace a police unit totaled in a crash.
  • An ordinance amending the Code of Ordinances for the City of Orange Beach to update technical codes and fees for land development.
  • An ordinance amending the Code of Ordinances for the City of Orange Beach to update requirements for fire prevention and protection.
  • Setting a public hearing date a setback variance in Mariner Lakes. It was suggested to be heard on Oct. 2.
  • Setting a public hearing date to revoke the business license for Pleasure Island Property Management due to delinquent payment of lodging taxes. It was suggested to be heard on Sept. 18.
  • Awarding the bids for the 2018 road resurfacing project in the city, Sportsplex Ball Field Improvements, Phase II for automated external defibrillators. Bids on all three will be opened on Sept. 13.
  • A resolution accepting the donation of a piano from Friends of the Arts.
  • A resolution authorizing a franchise for Pelican Waste to remove and dispose of commercial solid waste and to remove and transport construction and demolition debris.
  • A resolution authorizing the execution of a voluntary cooperation agreement with the Escambia County, Florida, Sheriff's Office.
  • A proclamation to declare Sept. 24 as Family Day, and Sept. 23-24 as Family Week.