FOLEY – The purchase of more property next to the Foley City Horse Arena will provide additional parking for equine events and an expansion of city services.

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the purchase will also provide more space for storage for the city Horticulture Department under the direction of John Graham. He said the city is also considering using some of the property to extend roads.

“This will help us open the property up,” Hellmich said. “We’ve achieved the buying of the property. Now we have additional storage for John Graham’s crew. We’re going to be looking at how we can do the north-south right of way road expansion in the east.

He said the additional parking will make the arena more accessible to visitors and participants who need spaces to place horse trailers and large vehicles.

Work at the professional office center next to the arena reduced the amount of parking space available for participants in equine events. The Jennifer Claire Moore Annual Professional Rodeo, which has been held at the arena since its beginning about 25 years ago, was moved to the Baldwin County Coliseum in Robertsdale for 2023.

The rodeo will take place Aug. 3 through Aug. 5.

Hellmich said that with improvements in the Foley arena, city officials expect the event to return to its original site next year. 

“The actual rodeo was moved this year,” Hellmich said. “They were concerned about the lack of parking, but this should help address that issue and our homegrown rodeo should be back next year.”

City public works crews will begin clearing the new property and making plans to start gravel roads to improve access to the site.

The City Council voted Monday, June 5, to approve paying the cost of clearing the 5-acre site and street rights of way at an estimated cost of $17,550.

Foley staff members have been looking over trees on the site before any work is done to clear property. Hellmich said most of the trees in the area to be cleared appear to be young pine trees.

“There’s some live oak trees but they may be right on our property. We’re not touching anything like that,” Hellmich said. “I’m not aware that there’s any issues with heritage trees or anything out there.”