By John Mullen
April 19, 2018 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA®)- Finally, all seemed to be in order for the transfer of land. And then it wasn’t.
 
Since a meeting in December, an action to transfer land from Orange Beach to the Baldwin County Board of Education has been ever present on every city council agenda. And every time it was postponed.
 
Also, during the April 17 regular meeting City Administrator Ken Grimes announced an upgrade in the city’s bond rating to AA1 by Moody’s Investor Service, one step below the top rating available.
 
When land transfer came up, Councilman Jeff Silvers began a motion the council has approved every meeting since Dec. 12.
 
“Move to postpone consideration …” Silvers began but was interrupted by City Clerk Renee Eberly and City Attorney Wanda Cochran. 
 
“We’re ready,” Cochran said. 
 
Cochran said the deed was prepared and the conditions of use agreement was ready to go as well. But the councilmembers hadn’t received those documents.
 
“I’d like to review this,” Silvers said. “What I see in here is the resolution authorizing the execution but it doesn’t’ say anything about deed restrictions. It says ‘after having reviewed said agreement the city council has determined that the provisions are in the best interest of the City of Orange Beach.’ I see no provisions. I can’t vote on this.” 
 
The council again voted to postpone it until the May 1 meeting to give councilmembers time to go over the agreement.
 
The land in question is the site of the old wastewater treatment plant on the south side of Canal Road with Sweetwater Drive on the west boundary and William Silvers Parkway on the east.
 
Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler announced in September the county system’s intention to build a school on the property. The first plan was to make it an island middle school housing all the seventh and eighth graders in the Gulf Shores High School feeder pattern. It was later upgraded to be a seventh-through-12th-grade school when Gulf Shores announced it was forming an independent city system.
 
Work has not started but Tyler says plans for the school are well underway. He says the county hopes to welcome students to the new facility in August of 2019. 
 
 
Orange Beach City Councilwoman Annette Mitchell
Annette Mitchell
AA1 BOND RATING
Word came down from Moody’s on April 11 on the upgraded bond rating and Grimes said several people are responsible for helping reach the financial milestone.
 
“There are very few cities in the state of Alabama with that so congratulations to the council, to Mayor Kennon, to Miss Annette Mitchell for leading our finance chair, our staff of Ford Handley, Clara Myers,” Grimes said “It was mainly everyone working hard to pay down debt. Debt management was huge in this and continuing with our reserves and what we are investing.”
 
Handley is the current finance director and Myers is the former director of that department. Councilman Jeff Boyd also recognized former councilman Al Bradley for his role in the city’s financial success.
 
“A big thank you to Al (Bradley) who started us and led us along this path,” Boyd said. Bradley passed away in his first term in July of 2014. Prior to winning a council seat, Bradley was a volunteer and integral part of the city’s Finance Committee and chairman of the Planning Commission during many years of service to the city.
 
Grimes said the city is now taking steps to reach the highest possible rating of AAA from Moody’s.
 
“We’ve always been told we’ll never get triple-A because of susceptibility to tropical weather,” he said. “They said because you have such great reserves they didn’t think that was a problem. If so, I want to show them all our building codes and other things that show that we’re prepared for it. So, I’m hoping after two years we might get to triple-A.”
 
In other business during the regular session the council:
 
Declared April 21 as Earth day, declared April 22-April 28 Parental Alienation Prevention Week, and April 25 as Parental Alienation Awareness “Bubbles for Love” Day.
 
Approved liquor licenses for Rouses going into the former Winn Dixie space and for the restaurant Playa going into the old Shipp’s Harbour space at Sportsman Marina. It also OK’d special events liquor licenses for the Dwight Yoakam concert May 24, the Orange Beach Billfish Classic May 18-19 and the Riley Green concert on June 1.
 
Passed a resolution declaring the Back-to-School sales tax holiday July 20-22.
 
OK’d an agreement between the fire department and VSC Fire & Security to provide monitoring service for Orange Beach Fire Station 2 on Canal Road.  
 
During the work session, the council discussed:
 
Declaring May 12 Lemonade Stand Day to encourage entrepreneurship with the city’s children.
 
Authorizing the mayor to sign a planning grant with the National Academy of Sciences to establish a Community Resilience Work Group for the City of Orange Beach to review and revise Community Rating System activities and to develop and implement a Program for Public Information. The grant would be for $30,000.
 
A resolution authorizing execution of a software agreement and business associate agreement with World Advancement of Technology for EMS and Rescue, Inc., for surf rescue incident reporting.