The Mobile City Council on Tuesday approved a $1.7 million revitalization of Doyle Park, a 24-acre park bordering the longest runway at the Brookley Aeroplex, which sees 100,000 operations a year, Mobile Airport Authority Executive Director Roger Wehner told councilors during a public hearing on the measure.
“The hope is to change the aspirations of youth in the community through the fascination of flight,” Wehner said.
The improvements to the park would include two observation pavilions, which would allow visitors to view takeoffs and landings of military, civilian and commercial planes. In addition, plans include baseball, softball, soccer and football fields, as well as a “field of dreams,” with a rubberized surface for lower impact on children with disabilities. Plans also include a splash pad.
Wehner said there are 33,000 homes within a five-mile radius of the park, but he said the hope is to attract many more people beyond.
The effort is a public-private partnership with the nonprofit Friends of Doyle Park raising the funds for the revitalization and the Airport Authority agreeing to maintain it.
“To me, Doyle Park is the perfect example of citizens coming together to start a public-private partnership,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said.
Wehner said the land used to be part of the U.S. Air Force base, which employed 17,000 people before it was mothballed in 1969.
“It really used to be where the community came to interact with the base,” Wehner said. “It has gone through a period of neglect.”
Once plans are approved by city planners, work on the park should begin and the first phase of the project should be completed in six months, Wehner said.
The park is in District 3, represented by Councilman C.J. Small. He thanked Wehner, the Airport Authority and Michelle Hurdle, director of economic and community development for Airbus, for the work they did.
In other business, the council approved rezoning of 662 Western Drive to allow Magic Recording Studio to continue operations. The owner of the property agreed to follow certain conditions as part of the rezoning approval including full compliance with all municipal codes and ordinances. The property will also revert back to its original business buffer zone distinction if it stops being used as a recording studio.
Operators claim the studio is a ministry that mentors youth, as well as a business that makes a profit through professional recording.
“Countless kids come to learn about production and music,” studio employee Rodney Toomer told the council in October. “Whatever we need to do to keep this going, I think it would be a positive for the community.”
The council also approved a contract with Hutchinson, Moore & Rauch LLC for sidewalks in the Toulminville community.
The work will be paid for through a $65,000 Community Development Block Grant. The project will be bid out as soon as the plans are drawn, which could take two months, City Engineer Nick Amberger said.
Approval of the project means sidewalks will be placed at Clinton Avenue from Donald Street to St. Stephens Road, Allison Street from Donald Street to St. Stephens Road, Gloria York Avenue from Donald Street to St. Stephens Road, Donald Street from Clinton Avenue to Andrews Street, St. Stephens Road from Clinton Avenue to Andrews Street and Andrews Street from Chavers Street to St. Stephens Road.
Councilman Fred Richardson said he had been asking for sidewalks in his district since 1997. He said the project would provide sidewalks for students walking to LeFlore High School, Booker T. Washington Middle School and Just 4 Developmental Laboratory.
The council also voted to fix costs for the demolition of a vacant home at 3700 Alba Club Road at $5,050.