What's next for Aloe Bay?
What's next for Aloe Bay?

Hello, Dauphin Island! Remember us?

Since the charrette earlier this year, our planning team has been hard at work refining the plan for Aloe Bay. We are excited about the plan and thrilled to begin sharing it with the community! Over the next few weeks we will be sending updates that outline the important features of the plan document. These articles will outline five main principles - or BIG IDEAS, as we call them - which are the backbone of the plan. As the community follows these ideas, Aloe Bay will become a success for everyone.

But first, we should revisit one of the most common questions received on the project: why is the future of Aloe Bay so important to the Town? The answer is directly linked to ensuring Dauphin Island has both physical and fiscal resiliency into the future. Over the years, the island has been impacted by a good number of events or disasters. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is one example that placed a tremendous strain on the Town's budgets. As a more recent example, the Town spent nearly $2 million in 2019/2020 in excess of disaster assistance funds on infrastructure, clean-up, and recovery from multiple storms. Considering the Town's annual budget is only $4 million, that 50%+ expenditure for recovery represents a significant impact to the Town. 

It is therefore critical for all to acknowledge that the Town of Dauphin Island is facing an increase in vulnerability, caused by a variety of factors outside of the Town’s direct control. Among these factors are increasing hurricane and storm activity, as well as pressure from oil spill risks, rising sea levels, and others. All of which could cause potentially devastating impacts to the Town’s tourism industry, livability, and fiscal health -- attributes that the Town depends on to continue operating. Put simply, there are no alternatives to leveraging available public funding to improve economic resiliency except 1) raising local taxes on residents or 2) creating some other mechanism that directly applies the burden of economic resiliency to Town residents. In the case of Dauphin Island, it can be summarized in stating, "in order for things to largely stay the same tomorrow, some small change must happen today."

Looking back, Town Leadership began to recognize these vulnerabilities and the need for physical and fiscal sustainability many years ago; Hurricane Katrina being the "final trigger" leading to the Dauphin Island Strategic Plan, adopted in 2007. As part of that plan, a town center was envisioned along Aloe Bay that included revitalizing a true working waterfront which builds upon the past and creates a small mixed-use area with commercial fishing, eco-tourism activities, housing and retail space.  This represented a significant consideration by the community to recognize Aloe Bay as a point of economic sustainability for the Town in the future. The vision was carried forward in the Town’s Comprehensive Plan 2030 by including ideas like a network of boardwalks, observation points, and a marina. Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the Town decided to leverage these ideas as part of a funding request to the Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council, resulting in the Town being awarded over $16.5 million for physical improvements to make this vision a reality through the Aloe Bay Town Center Master Plan.
Finally, all things are falling into place according to a long history of need and careful planning by Town Leadership. 

Please visit the Aloe Bay website (https://www.aloebay.org) for more information, and stay tuned for additional updates on the project.
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