MOBILE, Alabama — Several firms involved in the Airbus construction project at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley, the Mobile Airport Authority, and several community residents are spearheading an effort to rejuvenate a downtrodden, 24-acre city park in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood adjacent to the industrial complex.
Doyle Park, located at 1728 Rosedale Road, was originally part of the Brookley Air Force Base, where 17,000 people were employed before the base closed in 1969.
A non-profit organization called the Friends of Doyle Park has been formed to carry out the campaign, which calls for adding athletic fields, a playground, a walking trail, a splash park, event pavilions, and other amenities. In keeping with Doyle Park’s history as a prime location for viewing activity at Mobile Downtown Airport, the project aims to add observation terraces so families can watch flights by Airbus passenger jets assembled at the company’s Mobile Aeroplex Assembly Line.
The organizers, who outlined their plans at a recent kick-off luncheon at the Airbus construction site, say they intend to raise $1.5 million for the Doyle Park project. The park’s transformation should be complete in two years, in time for the maiden flights of Alabama-made Airbus aircraft.
Organizers see the project as a way to provide a lift for the Brookley/Dauphin Island Parkway neighborhood while also stimulating interest in aerospace careers among youngsters in the Doyle Park area.
Michelle Hurdle, a Mobile resident who serves as the Director of Economic and Community Development for Airbus Americas and one of the lead organizers of Friends of Doyle Park, said the park adjacent to the Downtown Airport’s airstrip is seldom used, and the facilities there are infested with termites. On a recent visit to the park, she saw a family with a child who was tracing the flight of an airplane with his finger.
“We want these young people to know what is in their backyard and that there is opportunity for them,” Hurdle said.
SUPPORT FOR THE PROJECT
The Friends of Doyle Park already has received support from companies involved in Airbus’ construction project and other construction projects in the immediate area. The Mobile office of Hatch Mott MacDonald (HMM), a partner of Hoar Program Management on the Airbus Assembly Line project, developed the master plan for the improvements to Doyle Park, created 2-D renderings of the proposed park amenities, and created a 3-D animated video of a renovated Doyle Park using Building Information Modeling (BIM). HMM already has provided services valued in excess of $50,000, and also will provide civil and architectural design services for the proposed improvements to Doyle Park.
“City parks and open space strengthen the bonds within our communities, and they make our communities more attractive places to live and work…we are excited to be a part of such a wonderful community project,” HMM Vice President Kendall Kilpatrick said.
Hoar Program Management (HPM), the Birmingham-based firm that is overseeing construction of the Airbus Assembly Line, has pledged $50,000 in cash and in-kind work toward Doyle Park’s transformation.
“We are excited about the opportunity to leave a lasting mark on the community,” HPM President Mike Lanier said.
Hosea O. Weaver and Sons Inc., a Mobile general contractor, has pledged to perform site work to clear the park’s overgrown areas and to prepare it for construction of the other amenities.
Roger Wehner, Director of the Mobile Airport Authority, which oversees the Aeroplex, said his organization has agreed to take over grounds maintenance at the park from the City of Mobile once the project is complete.
As part of the fundraising campaign for the project, the Friends of Doyle Park will seek tax-deductible donations from the business community as well as individual citizens. The organization has created sponsorship levels for donors ranging from the $1,000 “Fascination Level” to $100,000, which gives naming privileges for facilities within the park. Smaller donations will be accepted.
Gifts can be made to Friends of Doyle Park Fund, c/o The Community Foundation of South Alabama, P.O. Box 990, Mobile, AL 36601.