FOLEY – Expansion of the Civic Center, a commercial-grade kitchen in the Farmers’ and Fishermen’s Market and other projects are some of the municipal improvements being planned for Foley.
The Foley Planning Commission voted Wednesday, Sept. 20, to recommend that the City Council approve upcoming municipal projects for the next year. The recommendation is one of the initial steps toward implementation for projects planned by the city in the near future.
The commission recommended projects including adding 10,000 square feet to the Foley Civic Center, building a commercial-grade kitchen for the Farmers’ and Fishermen’s Market, moving the Symbol Health Center building, projects at the Graham Creek Nature Preserve and Wolf Bay Reserve and more restrooms at Max Griffin Park.
The Civic Center expansion would add about 10,000 square feet of space on the north end of the facility in Foley City Hall. Current plans for the project to be designed in the upcoming fiscal year. Construction would be coordinated with the schedule of upcoming events and bookings at the center.,
Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the center was built in the 1970s when Foley was much smaller.
“Our city’s grown and a lot of our events now need a mid-size space,” Hellmich said. “We’ve looked at adding onto the armory and different things and this is the most cost effective with the way it’s built.”
He said the current center can hold fewer than 300 people seated for a dinner event. An expanded facility might seat 400.
The Planning Commission also recommended approval for a commercial kitchen at the Farmers’ and Fishermen’s Market.
The new kitchen would be about 2,500 square feet in size and could be used by local food entrepreneurs to expand their businesses to meet demands.
Mike Thompson, city administrator, said some business operators could use the site to prepare foods to be sold at the market.
“They can lease the commercial kitchen by the hour, produce their product and then they can sell it to the general public,” Thompson said.
David Thompson, executive director of leisure services, said the kitchen could help new businesses get off the ground.
“We’re hoping it can be an incubator,” he said. “So there will be people coming and leasing space and getting their businesses started.”
New park projects were also on the list of recommendations.
A 40-foot by 60 foot pavilion is planned at the Graham Creek Nature Preserve. The building would be constructed on Philomene Holmes Boulevard. The pavilion will include solar panels for electrical power and could be rented for occasions such as weddings.
Another pavilion and restrooms are also planned near the south entrance to the park to provide facilities for events such as disc golf leagues and tournaments.
At Wolf Creek Park, plans include stabilizing eroded areas on the shoreline and developing a pocket beach.
The city is also working on plans to add additional restrooms at Max Griffin Park south of the Kids Park area.
Restrooms are now available at the park pool, but those facilities will be closed during construction of the city’s aquatic center planned for 2025, Hellmich said.
Construction plans will also require moving the Symbol Health clinic. The clinic is now located near the Foley Dog Park. The city will begin construction of the new library building at that site in 2024.
Current plans call for the clinic to be relocated to a prefabricated building near the former National Guard armory north of City Hall.
City officials also plan to build several new roads in the near future. One road would extend along the east boundary of the property recently purchased by Foley near the municipal horse arena. The road would be extend to North McKenzie Street near the South Baldwin Regional Medical Center.
The city also plans to extend South Pilgrim Street to East Jackson Avenue.
Foley officials are also working with Baldwin County on plans to extend Baldwin County 20 from Hickory Street to Baldwin County 65. City and county officials are working to acquire grant funding for the project.