By John Mullen

October 17, 2019 – Orange Beach, AL – (OBA®) – Orange Beach officials have long talked about developing the old Walker Marina property next to Pleasure Island Tiki Bar. At the Oct. 15 council regular and work sessions the city began putting into motion a plan for the property.

Construction on a new office facility for the Coastal Resources could start in early 2020 and bids are expected to go out this fall. The council also passed a resolution on a ground lease for property on the site with Auburn University for its planned Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station. They will first develop 1.3 acres closest to the boat basin with plans to extend north onto the remaining 1.5 acres that go all the way to Canal Road.

A rendering of the new Coastal Resources building planned for Orange Beach, Alabama.“It’s happening,” Mayor Tony Kennon said during the meeting.

What the public will see go up first is the Coastal Resources office which will be directly across the boat basin from Pleasure Island Tiki Bar and Sportsman Marina. The council discussed two resolutions during the work session, one for $18,000 with for a task order with McCollough Architecture to provide construction administration for the Coastal Resources Office in an amount not to exceed $18,000.

Another resolution discussed paying Sawgrass Consulting $30,000 for civil and marine engineering and inspection services and bidding assistance. Both will likely be on the regular agenda for the Nov. 5 meeting.

“This is management of the project of the civil side for the Coastal Resource Office that is designed,” City Administrator Ken Grimes said. “This is really because we are building on that peninsula, a small marina and we don’t know what we are going to get into civil wise when they start the construction. Whoever gets the bid and builds it they will now manage and get us through the project through the CO (certificate of occupancy). So, if there’s any questions it comes back to Sted (McCollough) on the building and Sawgrass on the civil and dock side.”

Auburn is first leasing another part property and will put in a building where the Frisbee golf course is now located. They are also expected to put in some docks of their own.

Rendering of the Auburn University Gulf Coast Engineering Research Station in Orange Beach, Alabama.“We’re initially leasing them the south parcel minus the footprint of our building and improvements for our office,” Coastal Resources Director Phillip West said. “If the next phase of the campus or next couple of phases as it moves north provided everyone’s in agreement that we’re moving in the direction the city wants to see which is a campus of higher learning. We will then lease them the balance of the property.”

In the end that could include bulkheading the west side of the boat basin now used to beach boats for people to visit the Tiki.

“They’ll probably build out around that ‘L’ all the way around and probably eventually bulkhead this side to maintain some depth to get in some bigger vessels,” West said.

Kennon said he hopes that can be avoided.

“The beach is a great amenity and I hope that doesn’t have to change,” Kennon said. “I hope we can work around that in some way because I’d like to save it if we can.”

West said the city plans to hold off on bulkheading that western rim of the basin for as long as possible.

“We won’t do it until we have to but eventually, you’ll have so much boat traffic going in and out of that basin and people pulled up and parked on that beach kind of restrict your access in and out,” West said. “We’ll leave it a beach as long as we can, obviously, but even eventually when we bulkhead it we’ll probably have some parallel boat parking over there so the public can utilize it.”

If the need comes to dock boats too large for the basin, West said the south rim of the basin on Terry Harbor could also be developed as a dock.

During the regular session, the council:

  • Approved a special events retail liquor license application for Anchor Bar and Grill an Oct. 30 event at the Orange Beach Coastal Arts Center.
  • Approved two special events retail liquor license application for Sassy Bass events at The Wharf on Nov. 8-10 and for Nov. 9.
  • Approved a resolution awarding the bid for the 2019 roadway resurfacing and trail paving project to Roads of Northwest Florida in an amount not to exceed $694,282.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing the execution of a medical services agreement for firefighter physical examinations with Southern Rapid Care.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing the execution of an amendment to the grant agreement with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the update of the City's Comprehensive Plan to extend the end date to March 31.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing the execution of an interim right of way use agreement with Verizon Access Transmission Services.
  • Approved a resolution designating depositories and authorized signatures on bank depositories.
  • Held a public hearing on phase two of the fiber optic development agreement with Island Fiber.
  • Approved a resolution authorizing the execution of fiber optics development agreement addendum A Island Fiber, for phase two of “Fiber to the Home” services.
  • Held a public hearing and first reading of an amendment to the Pandion Ridge PUD ordinance then suspended the rules to immediately vote on the change. It passed 6-0 and the RV resort will add an 18-hole putt-putt course, tennis court and multi-use court on the northern edge of the property next to Canal Road.

During the work session, the council discussed:

  • Deferring Truland Homes request for tree removal from 23690 Cypress Manor.
  • A possible donation of a flatbed truck and two knuckle booms to Elberta, Perdido Key, and/or other local municipalities in need.
  • Approval of 2018 audited financials.
  • A resolution amending the organizational chart for the city of Orange Beach.
  • A resolution authorizing the execution of a sub-award grant agreement with the Nature Conservancy for the NRDA funded Restoration Alternatives Analysis and Conservation Management Plan in an amount not to exceed $446,822.
  • A resolution authorizing the execution of a task order with McCollough Architecture to provide plans, construction assistance and oversight for the Trail Maintenance Shop/Wildlife Center not to exceed $37,500.
  • A resolution authorizing the execution of a professional services agreement with Sain Associates, Inc., for transportation and traffic engineering services.
  • A resolution authorizing the execution of a professional services agreement with Sawgrass Consulting for civil engineering, land surveying, and construction management services.
  • A resolution reappointing Susan Boggs to the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism Board of Directors.
  • A resolution awarding the proposal for the Orange Beach High School/Middle School Bell.
  • A reminder of a Nov. 5 public hearing Terry Cove Harbor setback variance.