Category Archives: The City

Birmingham’s newest municipal website makes its debut

City of Birmingham website 2014 650Visitors to the city of Birmingham’s website ( since close of business last night have been pleasantly surprised. The newest iteration of the city’s digital facing first impression has launched quietly, though it is our understanding a more formal announcement should be forthcoming. It replaces the one used (with only minor tweaks) since January 2008This latest version was created by locally based web design firm Kinetic Communications. They have also been working on a new Birmingham City Council website that launched last month, replacing one in use since May 2012. The sites are so similar visually most visitors will not notice they are not one in the same when navigating.

This redesign is the latest effort to tackle an issue faced by many cities — how to build a useful website for its citizens and business owners. A look back at earlier iterations should give a pretty good idea of just how far the city’s come from 2001.

Sidewalk Film Festival runs Indiegogo campaign to offset title sponsor loss

2014 sidewalk festival logoThis weekend saw the Sidewalk Film Festival (formerly known as the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival) celebrate its sixteenth year of bringing independent film to Birmingham, AL. Festival award winners were announced on Sunday evening at the historic Alabama Theater; here’s the rundown via The festival went on this year without the benefit of a title sponsor.

The nonprofit parent organization for the festival, The Alabama Moving Picture Association, is in the final hours of an Indiegogo campaign organized to raise the $16,000 needed to offset the resulting gap in funding. According to the campaign’s landing page, ticket sales for the festival only account for one-third of the organization’s annual cash budget. As of the time of this posting, they’d raised 76% (approximately $12,138) of their goal. It is a flexible campaign — meaning they will receive any funds pledged by 11:59 p.m. PT this evening (August 25).

The changing of the guard continues in Birmingham

pijeauxretirementparty625This week we’ve learned about the retirements of several prominent figures in our city and our city’s government. One we’ve known was coming for some time though was that of outgoing president of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Lawrence Pijeauxit was first announced last October. A party was held in his honor on Wednesday evening at the Institute’s home on 6th Avenue and 16th Street, South, drawing people from throughout the city to say “thank you” to the organization’s leader since 1995. As previously reported at the end of this piece from earlier this month, Priscilla Hancock Cooper has been named as its interim president while a nationwide search is conducted.

Tuesday morning saw the announcement of the retirements of Renee Blalock (executive director of the Birmingham Public Library); Phil Turkett (the city’s zoning administrator); and Bobby Dorr (the city’s director of information management services) during the weekly city council meeting. These announcements mean as much as nearly 40 years of institutional knowledge will be taking its final bow in municipal offices, and providing an opening for new voices and directions for the city.

RIP – Wade Black

blackmemorialWe learned only today of the passing earlier this month of Birmingham Pledge Foundation executive director (and a longtime friend of this website) Wade Black at age 66.

The organization’s offices on Second Avenue North are currently closed, with black ribbons visible on the doors and in the window and signs providing information about two public gatherings currently set for Thursday, February 13. The first is a community memorial service scheduled for 11 a.m. at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, followed by a reception in the community room at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute from 12 – 1 p.m.

Black authored a piece for us in 2011 shortly after the death of Fred Shuttlesworth. His advice and availability were always appreciated and he will be missed by many throughout greater Birmingham, and the state of Alabama – as evidenced by this post visible on the business page maintained by the Alabama Center for Law and Civic Education on Facebook last week.


Nice crowd for Saturday city comp plan forum

Mayor Bell signs in Aug comp plan. acnatta/Flickr.The competition was stiff Saturday morning, including this year’s Sidewalk Film Festival & a couple of large meetings across town. In spite of those other options, a crowd of at least 250 people gathered at the Birmingham Museum of Art for the final scheduled public forum for Birmingham’s comprehensive plan process.

Birmingham mayor William Bell even stopped by and signed in. He also opened the three-hour session with remarks. Fox 6’s Steve Crocker served as the event’s moderator.

Those in attendance learned about some of the recommendations being considered for the final document, which will soon be made available both online via the project’s official website and at your local Birmingham Public Library branch for a period of public comment. The plan will then need to be adopted by both the city’s planning commission and City Council.

There’s a more detailed description written by forum attendee (& Birmingham News business reporter) Roy Williams and posted yesterday. There’s also this piece of commentary over on Dear Birmingham from earlier today wondering about what else needs to happen to make this a reality.

A website launches for 2013 commemoration screenshotSomething that hasn’t been talked about very much – at least publicly – are the plans to commemorate 50 years passing since the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in September 1963. A visit to the city of Birmingham’s official website now provides you with a link to one major source of information about those plans. is the official website for the commemoration, reminding those who visit that it was part of “the movement that changed the world.” According to the site’s city plans page, there will be a traveling exhibition (called “The Civil Rights/Sister Cities Traveling Exhibition”) visiting five sister cities highlighting their contributions: Selma, AL; Washington, D.C.; Jackson, MS; Columbia, South Carolina; and Memphis, TN. (Montgomery, AL is listed on the site as well though the original National Press Club announcement from January did not include the city.) The site also suggests that the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail will be expanded (it would be the second time that the trail was expanded and the first instance since late 2010) in addition to plans for a humanities conference and a three-day festival in September. You can also watch the video of Mayor Bell’s remarks at the National Press Club on the site’s “Sharing” page.

It contains a calendar section as well that will most likely be updates with events being organized by other organizations and institutions as details are finalized.

Screenshot: home page.

Fountain Heights’ new rec center well underway

New Fountain Heights rec center under constructionTwo years ago when the Fountain Heights Recreation Center was included on the list of nine such facilities across the city of Birmingham that could potentially be closed as a cost-cutting measure, it’s safe to assume no one would’ve thought we’d be looking at significant progress being made on its new, larger replacement.

Folks driving along I-65 have probably seen the new structure going up on their right as they make their way north in recent months. Bids for the privilege to build the project were due to City Hall early last May – a good reason why sharing a photo of its progress seemed like the right thing to do this afternoon.

According to the original inclusion in the city’s 2008-2012 capital budget, the purpose of the then estimated $1.5 million project (PDF – it’s 681 pages – you’ve been warned – the rendering is on page 1 though), designed by Exford Architects, was to replace the existing gym due to unstable soil and structural fatigue. Based on the original estimate of 245 days to complete the project, we may see folks using it and the park’s new playground by the end of the year.