The city is getting its long-awaited litter trap at Eslava Creek.

The Mobile City Council on Tuesday approved a $660,800 contract with Gulf Equipment Corporation for the litter trap and site improvements on Eslava Creek at McVay Bridge.

City Engineer Nick Amberger told councilors at a pre-conference meeting that almost everything was in place for installation of the trap. He said the city had obtained permits from multiple agencies and removed a blighted house from the property. Amberger said remaining work to prepare the site for installation will total $248,000.

The new litter trap, Amberger said, is seven times larger than the one currently installed in another location. The smallest unit available to city at the time it was purchased, the original litter trap has been documented to fail during even moderate rain events.

“It should catch a tremendous amount of trash,” Amberger said of the new model.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson, who was in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, released a statement on the litter trap right before the meeting.

“Our goal is to have the litter trap up-and-running by summer,” he said. “The longer we wait, the more litter enters our waterways, the more health risks increase and the more damage is done to our community.”

The property where the 30-foot-long, 13-foot-wide litter trap will sit was purchased last year. Amberger noted the city also received $75,000 in funding from the Dog River Clearwater Revival group.

Councilman C.J. Small thanked the administration and Amberger for moving forward on the project. Councilman Fred Richardson also applauded the move to help get “litter out of our waterways,” but also asked Amberger for an update on the purchase of a litter boat for Three Mile Creek.

During the pre-conference meeting, Amberger told Richardson the city was working on a grant to help fund the boat. The city should receive some information on the grant shortly. He added the city was given a boat that could be used as a support vessel.

MPD body cameras

The council also approved a $480,775 contract with TASER International for body cameras for the Mobile Police Department.

Executive Director of Public Safety Richard Landolt said the contract would pay for the storage and about 350 cameras for the first year of a five-year contract. The cost of the contract would be about $400,000 for each of the following four years. The price would include maintenance, support and replacement, he said.

Landolt said the system would be implemented by the middle of the summer.
Councilmen Small, Richardson and Levon Manzie each said the cameras would help the city investigate complaints they often hear from residents in their districts.

“The body cameras will tell the truth,” Small said. “I’m so happy this is before us today for a vote.”

Richardson said now if someone complains about the demeanor of an officer during an encounter, investigators will be able to review the video.

Manzie called it a “great step forward for our community.”

Councilwoman Bess Rich thanked “everyone involved in the process” who worked so quickly to bring the contract up for a vote.

“I see this as a win-win for our community … ,” she said.

In other business

The council reallocated $1.6 million to pay for three synthetic grass soccer fields at Herndon Park on Sage Avenue. The council had previously approved a contract for the design of the fields. The fields will update two soccer fields already in use at Sage/Herndon Park while another field will be converted from a softball field to a soccer field.

The council also approved a contract with Southern Earth Sciences, Inc. for work needed to prepare portions of Old Shell Road for a Mobile County Pay-as-You-Go resurfacing project. Amberger said the contract, which will cost the city $60,025, will prepare a section of Old Shell Road from Florida Street to Interstate 65 and a section of the road from Watkins Lane to University Boulevard for construction.

The council appointed J. Michael Druhan Jr. to the Solid Waste Authority. Druhan will serve out the unexpired term of Tommy Tyrrell, who passed away recently. The term expires June 22 of next year.

The council held over for two weeks a request for a certificate of public convenience to allow Raquel Loveless to operate a sedan service through Helping Hands, Inc.

Councilors held over the request to allow Loveless to get an updated background check, as the one she had submitted to the city was a year old. They also asked her, during a public hearing on the request, to formally submit her incorporation paperwork to the state.

Loveless, who said she grew up in Mobile, wants to provide a car service to seniors who don’t have insurance and need a ride to doctor appointments and other errands. Loveless said she applied for the background check and then delayed filing for the request with the city.  

During the monthly financial report, Executive Director of Finance Paul Wesch told councilors sales tax revenues were generally flat in February, with a slight increase of $12,000. Overall, the city is still $2 million ahead of last year in sales tax collection.

He said the general fund is $1.8 million ahead of the budget in revenues and expenditures remain on budget.

“It looks like we’re off to a good start,” Wesch said.

He added that next week he would start getting with department heads to begin looking at the 2016 fiscal year.