The Baldwin County Commission approved a license agreement with Cypress Spanish Fort III LLC to install a Baldwin Rural Area Transportation Services (BRATS) hub at the Spanish Fort Town Center at its regular meeting July 7 in Bay Minette. The agreement allows BRATS to use approximately 32 parking spaces at the Town Center adjacent to Bass Pro Shops for a temporary park-and-ride location beginning July 13.

Spanish Fort’s transportation hub has been located at the Prodisee Center Gathering Place at the corner of Highway 31 and Highway 98, but that contract expires July 10 because of the sale of the property. The new lease will expire December 31.

The Commission also approved a series of BRATS contracts with Faulkner State, the Council on Aging, AltaPointe Health Services and the Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC).

The courier contract with Faulkner State, which provides transportation services to each of the Faulkner State campuses in the county Monday-Friday, will cost $1,130 monthly to be paid by FSCC. The county’s contract with FSCC for student use of existing BRATS routes will cost $1,195 per month.

The county’s contract with the Council on Aging will cost $4,850 monthly and will provide BRATS transportation to nutritional centers for the county’s senior citizens. Another transportation contract will provide 12 daily routes for ARC to county locations at a cost of $24,360, or $2,030 per route. Another BRATS contract serves AltaPointe Health Services for $5,600 per month for the use of four transportation routes to locations in the county.

Meanwhile, the Daphne City Council adopted a resolution at its July 6 meeting to request federal funds from the Eastern Shore Metropolitan Planning Organization to construct a transit facility in the city. The total estimated project cost is expected to cost between $200,000 and $300,000, with the city contributing a 20 percent match, or approximately $40,000 and $60,000.

Mayor Dane Haygood said the 20 percent match does not have to be a cash match, but could be in the form of in-kind donations like property in the form of a ground lease. He said the shelter could be a $20,000 to $30,000 freestanding shelter or a more elaborate pick up hub with a lobby, seating area and a small office, which would cost more than $200,000.

While a location for the Daphne transit hub has not been finalized, officials speculated that it could be located at either the Daphne Civic Center or the Jubilee Square shopping center. The city owns most of the parking lot at Jubilee Square, according to Councilman John Lake.

“The Jubilee Square location was brought up, and I don’t think most people realize that most of that parking lot is owned by the city,” Lake said. “Yes the footprint of the buildings are owned by the shopping center, but we have potential there with a lot of open spaces we could utilize for a hub. It would enhance the viability because when people park some place, they tend to shop at the same place. If you put it in that shopping center, it would create a location where people could park, then shop while they wait for a bus.”

Lake said a separate hub located at the civic center might help the city lure conventions that use the hotels in the city for transportation between shopping, convention and hotel areas.

“That could create some economic value we didn’t have before,” Lake said. “That’s something to look at.”

Haygood said the MPO asks municipalities to pass resolutions in support of transportation projects before it requests federal funding.

“There has been discussion about doing something at Jubilee Square as well as the civic center, which is the current pick up location,” Haygood said. “They aren’t focused on one particular location, just focused on making sure they have a pick up hub in the city.”

Councilman Joe Davis said he met with officials from the city’s library to talk about whether the civic center is a good location for a new transportation hub. He said discussions about the location of the hub should be conducted in public.

“It is part of where we can take monies for one project and possibly turn it into something bigger,” Davis said. “I think the locations need to be revealed. If we can’t talk about it in public I don’t think we should be talking about it.”

Baldwin County Commission recognizes employees of the quarter

The County Commission recognized five outstanding employees of the quarter at its regular meeting July 7. Three employees from the Communications and Information Systems department were recognized, including Senior Systems Analyst Laura Lundy, Senior Systems Analyst Katrina Pannone, and Communications Technician Jason Bishop.

Planning and Zoning Department Office Manager Crystal Bates and Foley Highway Department Operation Technician Douglas Acker were also recognized as employees of the quarter.

“This place doesn’t run if y’all aren’t doing what you are doing,” Commissioner Chris Elliott said. “We know that and we appreciate it.”