To the Advertiser-Gleam:

A recent article in the paper told a little of the history of City Harbor. Here’s some more.

Gus Alred and his brother started and ran Alred’s Marina and when Gus’ brother died, his wife became Gus’ partner. Now that didn’t last very long so Gus sold to his sister-in-law and he and his son Buddy leased the harbor marina and restaurant.

Gus was an interesting fella. He used to sit outside the building under a small tree and enjoy the view. The bench he sat on had a sign on it that read “ Girls and Tornado Watching Station.” Well it went along a few years and Gus and Buddy cut back on the days the restaurant was open. There was no mention in the lease how many days it had to be open.

The city and Alred’s lease was dependent on a percentage of the receipts and the mayor (Bob Hembree Sr.) decided the city wasn’t getting enough revenue for the lease. The city wound up suing the Alreds to void the lease. With George Barnett and Claude Hundley III representing the city, the city filed suit in Marshall County Circuit Court and lost, so the city took it to the Supreme Court of Alabama and the decision by the Circuit Court was upheld and the Alreds kept on doing business.

One might wonder how the Alreds prevailed. It was a tactic seldom used against a municipality known as “the doctrine of estoppel” and what happened is the city claimed the lease was invalid because the council had failed to make an ordinance when the lease resolution was passed, (where was the city attorney?) which is a step in the process. The Alreds’ lawyers argued that the city was powerless to revoke the lease because of the “doctrine of estoppel” which said that the city had leased the property for all this time and the Alreds had made lease payments to the city from 1978 till 1986, and the city was estopped from voiding the lease. Essentially estoppel says if it is okay without an ordinance this long then it is okay now.

As the article in the paper pointed out, it seems everyone who has leased the harbor or had any part in it has been sued by the city.

Before Buddy moved the slips to Signal Point, we sold our boat and I’m not sure about the rest of the story. I believe James Townson was mayor when Buddy moved and James cleaned up the place and began to let the public use it.

Joel Kennamer


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