Orange Beach officials gave a glimpse into the future for the city as Mayor Tony Kennon gave a lengthy presentation to the over 700 residents in attendance.
The hot button topic of the evening was golf carts. In 2016 there was an amendment to state law that prohibits golf carts from operating on sidewalks, sidewalk areas, or public streets of a municipality.
That same year Baldwin County voters voted to approve an amendment that legalizes the limited recreational operation of golf carts in Baldwin County municipalities under the following conditions:
• The municipality must adopt an ordinance designating streets or roads where golf carts can safely travel
• Golf carts must be permitted by the city
• State requires headlights, brake lights, turn signals, windshield. Proof of insurance.
• City permit required following inspection.
• Operation of golf carts is limited to between the hours of sunrise and sunset. (Why headlights?)
• Only licensed drivers may operate golf carts. No unlicensed drivers or children.
• The municipality’s ordinance may be more restrictive but may not be less restrictive than the Baldwin County local amendment.
Orange Beach Police have had an increase in interactions with golf carts over the last three years. In 2017 a total of 41 but 20 of those were juveniles. In 2019 the number of interactions had increased to 117 and 63 of those juveniles.
The City’s legal department is developing an ordinance for the use of golf carts in Orange Beach.
The slideshow presentation also recapped the city’s revenue and expenses over the years. In 2018 the city saw revenue of over $46.8 million and expenses of just over $30 million. The city also has $30 million in reserves and $25 million in operating.
The future infrastructure and public safety improvements planned are:
• New Fire Stations 1 & 5, Ono Station – Station 1 to have Fire College and intern dormitory.
• Justice Center – new courtroom and police station expansion
• City Hall upgrades/renovations
• Citywide security measures
• Relocation of Public Works
• New Coastal Resources office and Auburn University Engineering & Research facility on Terry Cove property
• Additional ambulance – building on success of first two ambulances
• Working with Gulf Shores and South Baldwin Regional Medical Center to open a free-standing emergency room.
Future quality of life investments the city is either currently working on or looking into for the future include:
• Additional Rec Center gymnasium – underway
• New, separate adult gym – designs being finalized
• Studying bubble enclosure for pool
• Tennis Court improvements
• Fiber optics to homes
• $100,000 Orange Beach Public Library grant
• New Kids Park playground equipment & upgrades
• Future goal of having city splash pad
• New shooting range (pistols and rifles)
• More dredging at Perdido Pass to start this fall
• Wildlife Rehab facility
Transportation improvements within the city are currently underway on Canal Road but more improvements are planned.
• Canal Road Widening from William Silvers Pkwy to Orange Beach Boulevard is anticipated to complete December 2020.
• Canal Road East – CITY STREET Orange Beach Blvd (Hwy 161) to Perdido Gate. Canal Road East became a City street. ALDOT paid to city $650,000 to cover future maintenance. Approved by Council in September 2018.
• Canal Road Widening Orange Beach Blvd (Hwy 161) to Wilson Boulevard Canal Road to be widened to three lanes from Orange Beach Boulevard to Wilson Boulevard. Anticipated start in January 2020. Restore Act funding.
• Full access to be limited on Canal Road, east of Orange Beach Boulevard, and a roundabout constructed at the Art Center to facilitate traffic movement. Anticipated start is January 2020.
• Wolf Bay Bridge project is on hold, but the city continues to pursue permits which are valid for 10 years saving over one and a half years of construction time if the project were to move forward.
• Canal Road bypass to Orange Beach BLVD is still in the planning and approval phase.
• Oakridge Sidewalk Connection to OB Sportsplex and School Campus is complete.
• City is currently designing Lauder turn lane and evaluating potential Lauder Lane service road connection to Gulf Bay Road signal.
• City is evaluating potential sidewalk from Cypress Village to Gulf Bay Road.
With the new Orange Beach High/Middle School under construction, Kennon highlighted the future projects planned for the schools:
• Performing Arts Center featuring 710 seats
• Athletic Training Complex
• Expand baseball/softball fields & training facility