FAIRHOPE – A 1.5-mile walking and bicycle trail could circle Fairhope’s Triangle property if a $550,000 plan is approved.
The Fairhope City Council voted Monday, Feb. 22, to apply for a grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for the project. Under the grant, ADECA would pay $400,000 for the work with Fairhope paying the rest.
Mayor Sherry Sullivan said city officials and residents have been meeting to plan the best use for the site between US 98 and Veterans Drive.
“We’ve got to put together a timeline on how we will move forward, but this is one step in that process, which is applying for grants for those trails, for a trailhead, for rest rooms, for some signage,” Sullivan said. “And again, this money does become available every year, but we felt like this was timely for us to do this as we continue to work through the development of the Triangle property.”
She said that if ADECA approves the grant, work could start on the first phases of making the property a public recreational site.
“Really what we’re proposing right now is one multi-use trail, the trailhead, which would be the parking and the restroom facility and some signage is all we’re proposing currently in the grant we’re applying for right now,” Sullivan said.
Richard Johnson, public works director said the multi-use trail will be an 8-foot wide route for walkers, joggers and bicycles that will extend around the perimeter of the property as well as parking and other improvements.
“That leaves the interior open just like the Mountain Bike Association anticipated and then volunteer groups and other entities could work with council and the city to build interior trails that are specialized for mountain biking and other parklike activities,” Johnson said.
Council President Jack Burrell said one remaining issue is to decide if the site will be a city park or if the council will adopt a conservation easement to preserve the site.
“I am in favor of going after this grant because we can do an awful lot with it, but secondly, we do need to fully preserve that land in perpetuity,” Burrell said. “I think that in 50 or 75 or 100 years, people will look back on that, just like they do our beachfront parks, Knoll Park, Henry George Park and the other great parks that Single Tax left to the Fairhope people. As we continue to grow as rapidly as we’re growing, we just need to do whatever we can to protect this greenspace from development.”
Councilman Corey Martin said the city can begin the process of planning how the space will be used while determining the best way to preserve the property.
“I think we can continue to move forward with this part of it as we discuss or debate which way we’re going to go,” Martin said.