As members of the district, which includes much of the eastern third of the downtown area, property owners pay a fee to the Downtown Mobile District Corp., which helps keep the area clean and retains a staff horticulturist for landscaping, Downtown Mobile Alliance President and CEO Elizabeth Sanders said.
The measure passed unanimously after a public hearing where no one spoke in opposition.
Jeb Shell, chief financial officer at Hargrove Engineers and Constructors, said when the company began to outgrow the building it revived in 2005, they looked to move outside of downtown, but the work being done inside of the district encouraged them to stay.
Hargrove and Crest Investments have 500 employees under the roofs of renovated downtown buildings.
“The city’s commitment to the BID (Business Improvement District) and the Downtown Mobile Alliance gives comfort to investors like us,” Shell said. “There’s a lot of risk involved in investments, but the BID helps take some of the risk away.”
Commonwealth National Bank President and CEO Tyrone Fenderson Jr. called the district an asset for the city. He said economic development hinges on bringing people downtown. He added that progressive cities around the country investment in similar improvement districts.
“When I think of progressive cities, I think of Mobile and its investment in BID and the Downtown Mobile Alliance,” he said.
Fenderson called downtown the people’s living room because its where citizens gather for entertainment and dining.
“BID filled a void, a void that needed to be filled,” he said. “It has charged someone with the day-in and day-out responsibility of making downtown somewhere people want to come.”
Police body cameras
Mobile Police Chief James Barber made a presentation on body cameras to councilors at the pre-council meeting Wednesday. Barber said the department ordered 25 VieVu body cameras for traffic officers in 2012 to try out the technology but as of today, 22 of the cameras have failed and no longer work. He told councilors that he would be coming to them in the future to request capital money to spend on cameras for officers, but first wanted to use any capital dollars on replacing old cruisers in the fleet, as up to 70 cars are in the city shop for repairs at any given time.
After the meeting, Barber said his office is working with the city’s finance department and the council in looking to replace $2.9 million in funds set aside for replacing the fleet that the council used to fund Medicare-eligible retirees healthcare costs next year.
“We’ve have got to be able to respond to calls,” he said. “Otherwise, the cameras do us no good.”
Barber said replacing the vehicles would cost about $3.2 million. Upgrading the technology to a cloud-based system needed for body cameras and purchasing enough cameras needed for every officer in the department would cost about $1.5 million.
In other business, the Council approved a $320,667 contract with Aeiker Construction Company for a skateboard park at Public Safety Memorial Park. Local business, including Foosackly’s have agreed to donate funds for the park, once ground is broken on the project.
“We’re very excited about this,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson told the crowd at the meeting.
The council also approved a $214,148 contract with Gulf Equipment Company for bridge repairs in five locations: Montlimar Creek at Pleasant Valley Road, Three Mile Creek at Zeigler Boulevard, Rabbit Creek at Todd Acres Drive, Montlimar Creek at Cottage Hill Road and Halls Mill Creek at Demetropolis Road. City Engineer Nick Amberger said the repairs came about due to erosion caused by last April’s heavy rain events.
The council authorized a $47,429 contract with Honeywell International Inc. for an upgrade to the direct digital control system at the Arthur R. Outlaw Convention Center.
An amendment to further change the litter ordinance was heldover until Tuesday, Nov. 25.