FAIRHOPE – The proposed working waterfront project includes pavilions on South Beach, pier improvements and more access to the bluffs that will not cut into the hillside, planners said Monday, March 22.
At a City Council work session, Scott Hutchinson of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood told council members that more work has been added to the pier and the beach south of the wharf, but that the bluffs will not be changed.
“In that general area against the bluff we will have a ADA accessible ramp going from top to bottom of the bluff there,” Hutchinson said. “That bluff will not be cut into. It will be standing out from the bluff. The only way we’ll really touch the bluff is any piling that’s necessary to go down to hold that ramp up, but we’re not proposing any cut into the bluff.”
Two new stairways will also be added on the South Beach bluffs to improve access, but those structures will also not cut into the hillside, he said.
Plans also call for adding pavilions and a wider walkway along the shore below the base of the bluffs.
“To the south there into the park, we’ll have instead of a beach, the beach is gone from the current plan, we’ll have a bulkhead situation with real wide pedestrian promenade along the bulkhead, 16 feet wide kind of thing we’re talking about with some nice landscape in the area, a big pavilion,” Hutchinson said, “I think 400 square foot pavilion with pergola and that will be some seating space for events and sunset viewing.”
The beach area farther south in the park will remain and another pavilion will be built in that area, he said.
Some of the money previously proposed for work on the bluffs could be used for improvements on the pier. Improvements include new railings as well as fishing stations, a crabbing pier and other additions, he said.
While the fountain will be replaced, the new structure will be about the same size and appearance. Hutchinson said the things like that.
“We’ll have a new improved fountain down there,” he said. “As you know, the one that’s currently there is needing a lot of work, but the footprint is going to stay very much the same.”
Modifications are also planned for the rose garden around the fountain to add more walking paths, Mayor Sherry Sullivan said.
“The rose garden area pretty much stays the same,” she said. “It’s reconfigured somewhat, the walking path and the inner circle where the rose garden is, is configured just a little bit differently, it gives more pedestrian access through there versus just some natural walkways. Some brick pavers through there, some brick sidewalks, but pretty much stays the same.”
Parking around the fountain and rose garden will remain. Hutchinson said the new plan will add about two new parking spaces and made the area easier for pedestrians to cross between the pier and rose garden.
The $6.2 million project is being paid for with money from the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economy, RESTORE, Act that distribute funds from the BP oil spill. In Fairhope, the work is intended to stabilize the bluff overlooking Mobile Bay and the waterfront.