FAIRHOPE – A six-passenger golf cart could soon be shuttling passengers from the Fairhope municipal parking garage to downtown locations under a plan being developed by the city.
Paige Crawford, director of community development, said city officials hope to have the shuttle delivered in about two months. “It has been on order and, as y’all know, golf carts are a hot commodity right now,” she told City Council members on Monday, July 12.
The shuttle would be based in the city parking garage. Volunteers will carry passengers to other locations in downtown Fairhope, she said.
City Council President Jack Burrell said the shuttle would provide a service for people coming downtown and help with parking by encouraging the use of the city garage.
“We can use it for special events, but we’re going to try to get people to use the parking deck and they can use the shuttle,” Burrell said.
As Fairhope has grown, the demand for downtown parking has increased, Hunter Simmons, city planning director, said. The Fairhope Planning Commission created a subcommittee to study ways to improve parking without resorting to paid systems, such as parking meters.
“Our Planning Commission has started a subcommittee on the parking in the CBD,” Simmons said. “They’ve invited members of the Parking Authority, the Environmental Advisory Board as well as the Bike-Ped committees to share in that goal.”
Burrell said encouraging the use of the garage could be one way to improve parking downtown.
“We want people to utilize that parking deck, get used to doing that. And I think once we’ve got people in the habit of using the parking garage, I think we can use it 1,000 different reasons,” Burrell said.
He said passengers could be issued a ticket when they park in the garage, allowing them to use the shuttle.
Crawford said city officials are working out plans for how the shuttle could be used. Systems used in other regions are being studied to see what might work best in Fairhope.
“We’re looking at some other cities. Seaside,” she said. “They’ve got kind of kiosks where people can call a phone number. We’re looking at some options as far as how we can let folks know where they need to be picked up or where they need to be picked up.”
The shuttle is a modified six-passenger vehicle, she said. The center seats will be lengthened to allow passengers in wheelchairs to use the space. “It is a six-seater, but it is a little longer than a normal six-seater,” she said.
She said the shuttle can also be used by the city for special events, such as the July 4 celebrations at the Municipal Pier and bluffs.