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Andalusia to obtain master plan for park

The Andalusia City Council agreed Tuesday to hire an architectural firm to provide a master plan for the development of property as a park in the downtown area.

Concordia Architecture, a firm the city has worked within the recent past on other projects, will draw a proposal for council consideration on a park area in an area near Cotton Street, bordered by E. Three Notch, S. Three Notch, Stanley Avenue, and a railroad line there.

“We will provide them with our dreams and ideas and they will put that on paper with a detailed plan,” said Mayor Earl Johnson. “From there, we will adjust the plan based on our budget and needs.”

The cost for the master plan proposal is $25,000.

Johnson said moving forward with a master plan for that area is a longtime goal and one aimed at luring more visitors to the city.

“We have worked hard to put ourselves in a position to take action [in the development of that area]. We want people to have a good reason to come to Andalusia and visit. Not just a place to drive through and get gas on the way to the beach,” he said.

The park area of the plan will include a section near the old train depot and Tisdale Street.

Other items discussed by the council at its regular meeting Tuesday included the following.

• The council approved a request from the Andalusia Police Department to update a system to record phone and radio communications. APD Chief Paul Hudson said the current system has aged to the point that repairs and service will become an issue. The council approved spending $20,945 to update the system from the same company that provided the current system. The price includes warranty.

• Mike Holloway was re-appointed to the South Alabama Regional Airport Authority Board.

• The council approved to place as surplus a Caterpillar front loader and a Kenworth truck. The vehicles will be placed for sale.

As a separate item, the council agreed to purchase a new Freightliner truck for Public Works at a cost of over $131,000. The expense will be financed through CCB Bank over a three-year period. The truck replaces another that is used to transfer trash twice per day to a landfill in Enterprise.

• The council voted to approve a resolution stating that recent costs for property abatements were “needed and responsible.” The city will seek reimbursement through property owners’ tax bills.

• Four properties were approved for weed and grass abatements. One of those properties included another issue to be addressed. Those properties are located at 105 Kathryn Street, 608 Stanley Avenue, 201 Smith Street, and 205 Stallworth Street.

• The city will temporarily reinstate a program providing sick leave to employees who contract COVID-19, providing they are vaccinated. Unvaccinated employees will not receive the additional sick leave. Any employee who has sick time available is allowed to use that time. The sick leave policy was approved through Dec. 31, 2021.

• The city will apply for the funding of equipment through the American Rescue Plan Fund. The city is allowed to use the funds for specific purposes.

The proposed equipment to purchase includes items for the police and fire departments, including turnout gear, as well as broadband equipment. The cost for the equipment is $395,645.

• Mayor Johnson concluded the meeting with current COVID-19 statistics in the city and county, and encouraged all citizens to get vaccinated and wear masks.

“We saw 199 new cases in Covington County last week,” he said. “We’ve had well over 5,000 people get COVID and we only have 37,000 people in the county. There were 25 people in the hospital and only two of those had been vaccinated.”

He said he was especially concerned about seeing an increase in pediatric cases.

“I’m not sure what else to do. It’s a dangerous situation and there are plenty of places to get vaccinated,” Johnson said.

COVID vaccine booster shots will likely be available in the near future, the mayor said.

The next regular city council meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 7, 6 p.m. A work session precedes the meeting at 5:30 p.m. Visitors to city hall should wear a mask.