City moving forward with utility complex project


ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — The City of Robertsdale is moving forward with plans to construct a new utilities complex on property the city owns on Chicago Street north of the police station.

A representative of Adams Stewart Architects presented plans for the project at the Robertsdale City Council meeting on Monday, Sept. 16.

The city also approved an interim finance package with PNC Bank until USDA loan approval is finalized for the project.

The more than $3.7 million project, which is considered to be Phase 2 of an improvement project surrounding Honeybee Park, which the city plans to complete as part of its Centennial Celebration in 2021, calls for a 23,000 square foot administration office, along with five additional buildings, two warehouses, a mechanic shop, equipment shed and maintenance shop, a total of just under 63,000 square feet.

The facility will be built to withstand hurricane-force winds and is designed to house city employees and anyone who comes in to assist with storm cleanup and power restoration following a storm, which means it will also be equipped for use as a temporary shelter with housing, kitchen and shower facilities.

“We have been looking to do this since Hurricane Ivan in 2004 when it became evident that we had no way to house workers who needed to be on call during a storm,” said Mayor Charles Murphy.

Phase 1 of the project was dedicated on July 4 and included the installation of new sidewalks, which increase booth space for the annual Honeybee Festival. Existing sidewalks which surround the park were also removed and replaced.

Brick columns surround the park, along with a brick entranceway at the south end of the park and the pavilion, which is located on the east side in the middle of the park. Additional improvements include landscaping, additional parking and restroom facilities.

The majority of the brickwork for the project was done by David Wilson Masonry Inc. of Summerdale.

Phase 3 of the park improvement project will be the construction of an amphitheater on the property where the Utilities Barn is currently located, featuring local entertainment, with additional parking and restroom facilities surrounding the structure. Estimated cost for that project will be around $1 million.

In other business Monday, the council approved budget adjustments for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

“Our revenues were up and expenses were down,” said Robertsdale’s Chief Financial Officer Ann Simpson, “leading to a larger surplus.”

While there was a slight increase in the overall revenue for the city, the biggest revenue increase came in the General Government budget, with actual revenues coming in at $6,405,013, compared to a budgeted revenue of $6,179,013, mainly due to an increase in collected sales tax from a projected $3,410,000 to an actual $3,600,000.

There was also a dramatic decrease in total expenses from a projected $18,441,190 to actual revenues of $18,190,518.

Total debt expenses also decreased from $1,896,543 to $1,819,307, primarily because of three major projects that carried over from 2018-19 into the 2019-20 budget, the construction of two additional ballfields at Garrett Park, the finishing of improvements to the PZK Hall, and painting of the city’s water tank on Fairground Road.

The changes brought the city’s total deficit in 2019 down from a projected $545,720 to $216,012, coupled with a surplus of $677,188 in 2018 bringing the city’s net surplus up to $461,176 from a projected $131,468.

Also on Sept. 16, the council:

•Approved a rezoning request from Joyce Bankester and Grady Thames on property located on Alabama 59 from B1 to B2.

•Donated $650 to the Robertsdale High School FFA program to attend a National Conference in Indianapolis.

•Agreed to once again serve as a sponsor for the annual Robertsdale High School Pre-Thanksgiving Tournament at a cost of $3,000.

•Allowed The Lighthouse to use Honeybee Park for the group’s 25th anniversary celebration on Oct. 23.

•Created a checking account for Rebuild Alabama gas tax revenue.

•Approved the annexation of property on Styron Lane.