It’s time again for another exciting edition of “Kudos and Kooties,” where we spread a little love to some of the folks doing great things around here and send nasty, itchy, “kooties” to those who are misbehaving. The kooties do bite, but they just leave little marks, which are treatable with any number of salves. (I just like saying “salve.”)

With so much love and a tiny bit of shade to spread, better get to it!

Let’s be nice first …
Kudos to the University of South Alabama for celebrating 53 years. Every time I drive down University and/or Old Shell, I am absolutely astonished at how much USA has grown just since I graduated from there in 2000. In addition to the university, the hospitals and USA Mitchell Cancer Institute are such tremendous forces not just for this city, but the region.  

I attended the Local Goodness fundraising event on Sunday for USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital and was touched by a story of one local family whose child was transferred there just after birth when it was clear she was having some pretty severe problems. She was later diagnosed with spina bifida and had to undergo numerous surgeries. She is now 10 and seemed to be doing great.

The child’s mother spoke at the event and was not only thankful to the doctors and nurses who took such great care of her daughter over the years, but so grateful she didn’t have to travel to other cities or even other states to get this level of care for her daughter. I imagine being able to have your family and support system around you during such a scary and difficult time is invaluable. We really are lucky to have this facility in our own backyard.

When you think of just how many patients have walked out of their hospitals, especially parents who are finally able to take their now-healthy babies home after months in the NICU, and also the many graduates from the university who have gone on to do great things, that’s a pretty big impression to make in just 53 years, which is like, maybe a young teen, if that, in university years.

Happy Birthday South and go Jags!

Kudos to Midtown Mobile Movement on their continued handling of the proposed development of a Publix and adjacent shopping centers at Old Shell and Florida (the site of the former Augusta Evans School). At press time, the Planning Commission was set to discuss this on Thursday, May 5, at 2 p.m. at Government Plaza, though they may hold it over for further discussion.

I really think MMM has handled this issue so thoughtfully and reasonably, simply voicing what Midtown’s residents want, while also being realistic and showing a willingness to compromise on some things. Hopefully the developer will ultimately do the same. We shall see if he eventually deserves kooties.

But we have joked around the office for years (like in a sad, shaking your head kind of way), that we should have gotten into the urban design and consulting business. Because I would love to add up how much the city has spent over the years on all of these maps, plans, studies, etc., on goals to transform us into a more walkable, livable, pedestrian-friendly, form-based code, smart growth, [insert more urban development buzzwords here], better city self. I can’t tell you the figure, but it’s a lot!

So riddle me this: What’s the point of doing all of these studies and spending all of this money on them if we aren’t going to adhere to their recommendations?

Now for the KOOTIES! (just one set, actually)

Kooties to Mobile City Councilman Fred Richardson (District One) for his reaction to Midtown residents who were simply expressing their concerns about said project at Old Shell and Florida. While I think he was just trying to get information out on social media at first (and we will give him a tiny kudos for that), he became increasingly defensive and almost aggressive with those who were stating their specific objections to the developer’s plan. It almost seemed like he was becoming an advocate for the developer rather than his constituents.

He told one gentleman who lives on Ann Street it wasn’t in his district so he didn’t need to worry about it since he wouldn’t be impacted and went on to say the Winn-Dixie near him “has all of what you are opposing.”

Precisely, Fred!

Yes, though the Winn-Dixie (our beloved one at Government and Catherine) is great on the inside, the exterior design does have all of the things Midtown residents are opposing at Old Shell and Florida, but it was built in an era when buildings with giant parking lots out front with little to no vegetation were seen as a sign of economic success.

Desired development standards have changed. Sure, there will always be appropriate areas for big box stores and parking lots (hello, McGowin Park), and we want those, too. But not in our neighborhoods.

Once again, please consult any number of those fancy plans and maps for Mobile the City Council has voted on and the taxpayers have funded. I’m sure they are on a shelf somewhere collecting dust. In fact, I know I have sat through numerous Power Point presentations at various luncheons over the years with urban planners from other cities showing us pictures of those types of developments as examples of what we don’t want.

And finally, dearest Councilman Richardson, just FYI, all Mobilians care about what is happening throughout the city and we certainly have a right to voice our opinions on all of the projects that affect us, no matter what ZIP code we live in.