The result of a more than $72,000 contract set to be voted on by the Mobile City Council in the coming weeks could be an observation wheel at Cooper Riverside Park.
The amenity aimed at driving tourism in the Port City was part of very preliminary sketches as discussions over waterfront development have intensified, Mayor Sandy Stimpson told councilors during a pre-conference meeting Tuesday, April 20. The $72,014 contract with Moffatt & Nichol Inc. for development services related to a riverfront redevelopment project may or may not, at this point, include the Ferris wheel-like attraction.
“It was part of a full design that would incorporate a baseball hall of fame walkway and other aspects of the city’s sports history,” Stimpson said. “It would give us a fresh look at what can be done to enhance tourism.”
The plans could also include an expanded bulkhead at Cooper Riverside Park.
Stimpson rolled out a design of the so-called Hall of Fame Courtyard at the end of January. The initial concept was to unveil five life-sized statues of Mobile-area natives previously inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Those players include Hank Aaron, Billy Williams, Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige and Ozzie Smith. The courtyard would include space for future Hall of Famers as well.
The contract was introduced on the council’s agenda for a first read at the April 20 meeting. Per its rules, the council delays votes on most first-read items for at least a week. That means the council could vote as early as Tuesday, April 27 on whether or not to approve it.
In other business, councilors approved a $2 million transfer of money from the general fund budget surplus to the capital improvement fund to replace the existing lighting along Interstates 10 and 65 with new LED lights. The transfer represents the funding for Phase 1 of the project.
Councilors were generally supportive of the project, but Councilwoman Bess Rich questioned the movement of the money because she felt anything listed in the general fund was for operations and therefore should’ve been budgeted before the start of the current fiscal year.
City attorney Ricardo Woods explained while the surplus money was in the general fund, a budget amendment was not needed to approve the transfer because it was surplus and not part of the actual operating budget.
Councilors also appear ready to revisit the city’s sign ordinance after Tim Hollis, a candidate for Council District 1 in the August 2021 municipal election, complained about a number of political signs remaining in rights-of-way throughout the city’s northside neighborhoods past the Monday morning deadline each week.
The city’s current ordinance allows signs to be placed on city property from Friday afternoon until Monday morning each week. However, signs must be picked up Monday morning. Hollis complained about signs remaining up in the Trinity Gardens and Beau Terra neighborhoods. One of Hollis’ opponents, Cory Penn, lives in the Beau Terra neighborhood.
Councilman Joel Daves suggested requiring sign makers to send a copy of the ordinance to customers with an order of signs, although he questioned the legality of such a move.
Councilman Fred Richardson, who currently represents District 1 but is stepping aside to run for mayor in August, said the issue with political signs is not due to people not knowing the rules.
“It’s a flagrant disregard for the law,” he said. “It’s not done out of ignorance.”
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