The council met in a work session to go over the city’s $1 million sidewalk installation project, which is nearly half-way completed across all five wards. Before adjourning, the Regional Planning Commission gave the latest updates on the West
Homewood Village redevelopment plan, focusing on the city-funded work, such as parking areas and pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, and also creating a parcel at the end of Gillon Street from various land donations that will be used as an entry, or focal point of the shopping village. Ward 2 councilman Fred Hawkins asked that portions of the work be fast-tracked into the upcoming budget, although no figures were discussed.
Members present: Bruce Limbaugh, Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Vance Moody, Patrick McClusky, Heather Reid, Peter Wright. Arriving toward the end of the meeting were Richard Laws and Jenifer Champ Wallis.
Members absent: Walter Jones.
Staff present: Vanessa McGrath, Greg Cobb, and Jim Wyatt, city Building, Engineering and Zoning Department; city clerk Linda Cook, city treasurer Melody Salter, and city attorney Mike Kendrick.
Audience attendance: 5
Report on sidewalk construction, to date: Ms. McGrath summarized highlights from the city’s ongoing sidewalk installation, citing a near completion of the high-priority projects. Out of the $1 million originally budgeted for sidewalks in the last fiscal year, $439,000 has been spent so far on approximately 9,000 feet of sidewalk, with $476,499 remaining to be spent. Nearly all the $100,000 budgeted separately to repair sidewalks in Ward 5 ($98K) has been spent. The average cost of construction is $33.65 per square foot.
Several high priority projects remain, as follows:
1. Mecca Avenue/Highland Road street build-out – A total of $125,000 was originally approved for this project, whose cost estimates have risen due to need to build retaining walls, move power poles and steep slopes requiring steps and hand rails. One cost-saving option being studied is to build out the sidewalk into Mecca, narrowing the road from 24 feet to 20 feet. Mr. Thames suggested a traffic study to determine the feasibility of making Highland and Irving one-way streets, in opposite directions.
2. Rumson Road to the YMCA entrance- This project is in the engineering phase with the plan to build the sidewalk into the street to avoid obstacles, as on the Mecca project. Mr. Wright commented that families were happy about the sidewalk plan.
3. Approved an 18th Street/Valley Avenue connector sidewalk: The council agreed to add this project, at a cost of $12,000.
4. Combined two projects and moved to high-priority: The combined projects involves Saulter Road/Edgewood Boulevard/South Forrest Drive.
5. Columbiana Road/Sterrett Avenue. This project is still in design.
Miscellaneous updates on other projects: Kent Drive-delayed by rain; Roseland Drive-will begin in two weeks; Rosedale has had a federal Community Development Block Grant approved for sidewalks on BM Montgomery Street; the city has applied for a federal grant for sidewalks on Central Avenue.
Review of the West Homewood “Village” Plan
The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham presented an overview of the project to rezone portions of West Homewood around Patriot
Park using “form-based” or appearance-based building codes in place of traditional use-based zoning. The city’s part of the plan will be implemented in stages, beginning with these city-funded projects, as money becomes available: A) Streetscape improvements on commercial property across Oak Grove Road from Patriot Park; B) Streetscape improvements on Raleigh Avenue/Oak Grove; C) Construction of a Plaza; and D) Improvements on a new parcel at the dead end of Gillon Street, on Oxmoor Road, to be created by donations of land from several property owners and which will be developed as part of the project’s focal point. Mr. Hawkins commented that it would only be fair to allow an engineering company (Weygand?) that planned to donate part of this parcel to participate in some of the engineering work, and that he’d like to see the first streetscape improvement and the new parcel formation fast-tracked into the coming year’s budget. No cost estimates were mentioned.
As to cost, Ms. McGrath noted that the Edgewood Village redevelopment, which the West Homewood plan uses as an aesthetic model but which differs in many other respects, cost $1 million, including $100,000 in engineering and $110,000 to install underground utilities.
Approved a resolution supporting the plan: Those present voted to pass a resolution in support of the West Homewood Village plan.
A public hearing for the rezoning aspect of the plan is scheduled for Aug. 26th at the regular city council meeting.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:45 p.m., before the regularly scheduled city council meeting.