City Poised to Okay “Mardi Gras” Park

The City of Mobile is set to spend 2.2 million-dollars on a park on County-owned land at Government and Royal Streets downtown.

“It is one of the two or three most important corners in Mobile,” said Mobile Downtown Alliance’s Elizabeth Sanders.

A public hearing Tuesday drew no criticism. The rector at Christ Church Cathedral that abuts the property endorsed the park.

“It has always been a fear that it would become a parking garage, or something unattractive,” said Rev. Beverly Gibson.

The park is a private-public partnership. The Hearin-Chandler family donated a million dollars through the Mobile Carnival Association. The City actually borrowed 1.2 million as part of a capital improvement bond seven years ago, but the project stalled. No one seems to know why.

“It just never happened,” said Finance Director Paul Wesch.

“Why we haven’t moved forward I don’t have a clear understanding,” said City Councilman Levon Manzie.

The borrowed money was eventually used on road improvements at the Brookley Aeroplex ahead of the Airbus opening. That  $1.2 million will be now paid out of economic development funds for the park.

Wesch says $2.2 million will remain for economic development. That is enough, he says, to meet the city’s current needs.

“We do vet that with the Chamber and the State, the Alabama Development Office, and we do think that we’re sufficient,” Wesch said.

If, as expected, the city council approves the plan next week at its meeting week, on the 24th, it will be getting in just under the gun. Its 7-year agreement with the County to come up with a plan to develop this property runs out two days later, on the 26th.

The park will primarily be a green space, with some Mardi Gras themed elements, including cement steps along Church and Royal Streets for parade viewing.

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