Robertsdale Seeks Grant For Storm Shelter, Public Works Building

September 8th, 2011  |  Published in Latest News

Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 8:07 AM

ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Federal disaster grants in the wake of the April tornadoes could provide money for a city public works building and storm shelter, Robertsdale officials said Monday.

The City Council voted Monday to appoint Stacy McKean of Premier Grant Consulting to seek a hazard mitigation grant for a storm shelter. The facility would be an emergency shelter for residents during tornadoes and a site where city workers could ride out hurricanes, McKean said.

McKean, former grants coordinator for Baldwin County and now a private consultant in Fairhope, would receive a commission of up to 6 percent on any grants approved.

She said that after the tornadoes that struck the state in April, cities, counties and agencies around Alabama could receive as much as $160 million in hazard mitigation grant funds.

“It is not an annual program, but only becomes available after disaster declarations in the state,” McKean told council members. “You do want to go after what you’re able to go after and what you truly need.”

The grant would require the city to provide 25 percent of the costs in cash or services. McKean said the amount of the grant and size of the project will depend on many people could be served by the shelter.

A tornado shelter would be set up to protect residents who could reach the site with about five minutes warning, Greg Smith, city engineer, said. That figure would include the population within about one mile of the site on East Chicago Street.

Smith and McKean said they would present a report to the council in August with cost estimates for the project.

The building would also be a shelter for city workers during a hurricane, so that emergency personnel would be available as soon after the storm as possible, Mayor Charles Murphy said. He said the structure would also be used as a Public Works Department building when not in service as a shelter.

“If we can get the money through this source then basically we’d move forward with the public works complex,” Murphy said. “We’ve already got the property and our concept here was that we needed a shelter unit there, especially for the utility workers in case we get storm damage.”

McKean said the Robertsdale area already has a large building designed as a hurricane shelter, the Baldwin County Coliseum. The new building would not have to house a large number of evacuees.

She said the proposed building would be similar to shelters built in Mobile County that also serve as community centers. A building in Satsuma is about 4,600 square feet, while a similar facility in Chickasaw is about 3,500 square feet in size.

Murphy said the Robertsdale building would include a large central area that could be used as a shelter. The site would also have bathrooms, laundry facilities and a kitchen area as well as storage space for cots and emergency provisions.

McKean said the entire project could take about four years to complete depending on when federal officials act on the grant application.

In other action at the Monday meeting, the council voted to allow the Central Baldwin Softball Association to place signs at the city limits recognizing the league’s girls 16 and under team that won the state championship.

Association representative Steve Williams told council members that the team will now compete for the national title in Oklahoma.

By Guy Busby Press-Register