Mobile could officially bring in a new bike share company as early as next week to replace LimeBike, which left earlier this year.
The Mobile City Council, per its rules, delayed a vote on a non-exclusive franchise agreement to allow Gotcha Mobility LLC to operate a bike rental service. The council delays most agenda items until they are read a second time.
City spokesman George Talbot said the contract allows Gotcha to operate no less than 200 and no more than 1,000 bikes citywide within 90 days of the approval of the agreement. The agreement began to take shape after LimeBike announced it was leaving in late February.
“We heard in the wake of LimeBike’s decision from a number of companies,” Talbot said. “Gotcha emerged as the best fit and we worked on a new agreement.”
While Gotcha has scooters in other markets, Talbot said the contract refers specifically to bikes, unless the state law changes.
Gotcha is app-based and dockless, meaning that the bikes will be very similar to LimeBike, Talbot said. However, the city has learned its lesson this time and has not entered into an exclusive franchise agreement with Gotcha.
In other business, the council approved a $3,000 expenditure from Councilman Levon Manzie’s discretionary funds for the purchase of land to expand the Isom Clemons Civil Rights Memorial Park.
In addition to the $3,000 from Manzie for the land that abuts the current park, Main Street Mobile at $6,000 and County Commissioner Merceria Ludgood at $18,000 are also contributing to the cause.
While Manzie called current plans to add features to the green space “cost prohibitive,” he does hope to phase in features after the land is purchased. Specifically, Manzie said he’d like to see a water feature or memorial on the property.
“I’m hopeful for a phased approach,” Manzie said. “I believe Mobile has a very rich civil rights history, although it’s often overshadowed by that of our sister cities. I’m open to ideas.”
Councilors discussed possibly allowing the county to take over the land and maintain the park, given that Ludgood provided the most funding for it. Manzie said he had no issue with that and would talk to Ludgood about it.
Councilman Fred Richardson said that the purchase of this property would allow Manzie and the city to make the current green space a proper park.
“The piece of land he’s working with is very small,” he said. “He has an opportunity now to accept more land.”
Isom Clemons was a former leader of the local Longshoremen’s union and a civil rights activist, Manzie said. The park that bears his name is across the street from the union’s building.
The council briefly discussed the possible expansion of the downtown entertainment district during a pre-conference meeting. Manzie asked that the council item be delayed for two weeks, while he and city negotiate.
Talbot said the city wants to either expand the eastern-most entertainment district to include the waterfront, or create a third district. He added that Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s office approved of Manzie’s plan to add parts of De Tonti Square into the eastern-most district.
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