Why did the City take over the marina property?
While the marina property at the foot of Sea Cliff Drive has always belonged to the City of Fairhope, we assumed management on October 15, 2017 after a 30-year lease expired. The marina was in poor condition and, after studying the best practices of cities in other coastal areas around the country that operate their own marinas, we determined it would be in the best interest of the citizens of Fairhope if we assumed management in order to improve this asset, its efficiency and environmental stewardship. Reflecting on the history of boating and fishing on the Eastern Shore, we renamed the property “Fairhope Docks” to reflect its ownership by the citizens of Fairhope. We look forward to a future that continues to include these traditional activities while responding to the needs of the boating world with enhanced facilities and an ever-improving environment.
What have you done to improve the facilities and property?
Just prior to assuming management of the marina property a little over a year ago, Hurricane Nate hit, damaging what wasn’t already in poor condition. Since that time:
- The grounds of the marina have been cleaned up;
- Broken and missing dock boards have been replaced;
- Docks have been power washed;
- A modern marina office has been established;
- The parking lot and old boat repair yard have received new layers of stone for a fresher look;
- A new double-hulled fuel tank has been delivered and the marina is back in the business of selling gas and diesel;
- A new pump out station has been installed, thanks to receipt of a grant through the Federal 1992 Clean Vessel Act; and
- Interim repairs are being made to the docks and piers on an ongoing basis while we research and develop new ideas for services and marina layout.
These improvements have been targeted, goal-oriented and capable of producing a quality product that can serve our City for a lifetime. We are working according to available budget, making changes for the long-term success of the marina.
What are your plans for the future?
While we have accomplished a good bit in just a little over one year, our #1 goal is safety. Consequently, our interim repair work, which is being done in-house, is geared toward security and the safety of our customers and crew while simultaneously improving the overall appearance of the marina. For 2019 we are planning to:
- Repair G Dock along the jetty;
- Replace the bulkhead and docks and finger piers along A and B Docks; and
- Lay out plans for a redesign of the marina.
All work will be done in phases so that we can continue to serve without interruption and improve our service to our customers.
In April we begin participating in a living coastal shoreline project. We will be a test project for a joint study being conducted by University of South Alabama and Mississippi State University with plantings near the jetty and beach area to help protect our shoreline, give us wind protection and enhance our overall look. These participating universities will care for the plantings and record the results with the intent of producing recommendations for plantings that will thrive on the Eastern Shore and save and enhance our entire shoreline.
Who has authority over the Fairhope Docks?
Fairhope Docks is part of the Parks & Recreation Department. The marina management team works closely with the Harbor Board (https://www.fairhopeal.gov/city-government/city-committees), but, ultimately, decisions involving expenditures are approved by the Mayor before going to the City Council for final approval. In consideration of future plans, these entities are:
- Reviewing a design option provided by the Design Studio in Biloxi;
- Researching the viability of having a boat yard facility or dry storage facility or a combination of both; as well as,
- Considering what other services we might provide at the marina for future implementation.
We anticipate having plans for a total phased-in renovation project by early 2019.
What are you doing to improve the environment there?
The Clean Marina program (http://cleanmarina.org) best practices will be key to any decisions we make in developing the marina and protecting our assets. In addition to having installed a new, improved fuel tank and pump out station, we will have mobile electric pedestals. In the event of a storm, we can remove the electrical components from the pedestals and get them out of harm’s way. We are also looking at mobile bathrooms and laundry facilities and, eventually, the marina office. Much like the marina office at Bay St. Louis, we will be able to disconnect these facilities, hitch them to a truck and pull them to higher ground and safe storage, which both protects our assets and the environment.
In all cases of renovation, Clean/Resilient Marina practices will guide our efforts.