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.