New hotel, Cullman Regional Airport big topics at city council meeting

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Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Dale Greer displays an artist’s concept of the new hotel slated for Alabama Highway 157. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune.)

CULLMAN, Ala. – A new hotel development and multiple projects at Cullman Regional Airport/Folsom Field received considerable attention at Monday evening’s Cullman City Council meeting, along with official approval of an ordinance authorizing a bond issue that will allow the City to retire debt on the Duck River Reservoir project and reportedly lower rates to water customers.

Hilton Home2 Suites coming to Highway 157

Mayor Woody Jacobs and Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Dale Greer announced that Hilton Hotels plans to construct a Home2 Suites hotel along Alabama Highway 157 next to Warehouse Discount Groceries. The $13 million, four-story, 65,000-square-foot facility will feature:

  • 61 rooms with king-size beds and 40 rooms with double beds
  • All extended stay suites with in-suite kitchens
  • Grilling patio and two outdoor lounges
  • 1,200-square-foot conference room
  • Breakfast service and dining room
  • Saline pool

 

According to Jacobs, the developers pledged to use local vendors as often as possible in construction. The project is a joint venture between Hilton, the City of Cullman, the Cullman Economic Development Agency and the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year.

Multiple airport projects

Council business included three separate resolutions concerning Cullman Regional Airport/Folsom Field:

  • Resolution No. 2020-102, to award the bid for the taxiway connector relocation at the Cullman Regional Airport to the lowest responsible bidder, Wiregrass Construction Company, Inc. The project, reported recently in The Tribune, will be funded by a $774,251 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant. The relocation is required by recent FAA regulation changes. Airport general manager Ben Harrison reported that the new connector will also be upgraded to accept larger and heavier aircraft.
  • Resolution No. 2020-103, to award the bid for clearing and grubbing at the Cullman Regional Airport to the lowest responsible bidder, RPF Emergency Services, LLC. According to Harrison, the airport’s Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) lights have not been used in some time due to trees and other growth obstructing views. The clearing of the runway approach will allow nighttime use.
  • Resolution No. 2020-109, to enter into contract with Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood for engineering services related to the replacement of the Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) at the Cullman Regional Airport. According to Harrison, many companies that fly into Cullman require weather reports before approaching the airport, and the facility’s current equipment is almost at the end of its effective service life.

 

Issuance of new water revenue bonds and retirement of old Duck River debt

The council suspended its regular rules of procedure to pass on its first reading Ordinance No. 2020-34 to authorize a supplemental water supply agreement with the Utilities Board for the Series 2020 Bonds. According to the ordinance, “Due to the currently favorable interest rate environment the Board and the City have determined that it is necessary, desirable and in the public interest that the Board redeem and retire its $58,485,000 initial principal amount Water Revenue Bonds, Series 2011, dated June 3, 2011 (the ‘Series 2011 Bonds’) in order to realize substantial savings in interest costs incident to the water supply system of the Board pursuant to which the Existing Agreement has been entered; and . . . In order for the Board to provide funds to pay the costs of redeeming, retiring and refunding the Series 2011 Bonds, it will be necessary for the Board to issue its $46,225,000 aggregate principal amount of Water Revenue Bonds, Series 2020, dated July 14, 2020 (the ‘Series 2020 Bonds’).”

The retirement of the 2011 debt at this time was estimated to save the city almost $20.5 million in interest payments, as reported previously in The Tribune.

Other council business

The council also approved:

  • Resolution No. 2020-104 to award the bid for stonework on an as-needed basis to the lowest responsible bidder, Stone & Tile Masonry.
  • Resolution No. 2020-105 to award the bid for concrete on an as-needed basis to the lowest responsible bidder, Kirkpatrick Concrete, Inc.
  • Resolution No. 2020-106 to award the bid for Cleaning and Video Inspection of Sewer Lines in Derby Creek Sub-Basin to the lowest responsible bidder, Video Industrial Services, Inc.
  • Resolution No. 2020-107 to award the bid for Katherine Street project to the lowest responsible bidder, Manning Construction, LLC.
  • Resolution No. 2020-108 to declare asphalt millings surplus and not needed by the City of Cullman.
  • Ordinance No. 2020-32 (passed on first reading by suspension of rules) to annex properties belonging to William and Elizabeth St. John, Jerry III and Jenny L. Dupre, Stanley and Deborah Schaffer and Anthony and Tiffany Johnson, located along County Road 590 in the vicinity of County Road 466 into the city limits of Cullman as an agricultural district.
  • Ordinance No. 2020-33 (passed on first reading by suspension of rules) to annex property located at 947 County Road 1332 and belonging to Lane Friedman into the city limits of Cullman as a residential district.
  • A special event request from Pastor Kevin Wilkinson of Grace of Life Church to hold tent church services in Depot Park July 31, Aug. 1 and Aug. 2, 2020.
  • A resolution added at the last minute to grant Tier I benefits to Tier II City employees.
  • A resolution added at the last minute to extend City employees’ Families First Coronavirus Response Act benefits to correspond to the governor’s extension of the Safer at Home Order.

 

The council gave a first reading to Ordinance No. 2020-31 to vacate and surplus the alley near Eighth Street Northwest subject to utility easements, but took no action.

The Cullman City Council meets next Monday, July 27, 2020 at 7 p.m. in the Cullman City Hall auditorium. The public is invited to attend, subject to COVID-19 guidelines.

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W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com