FINALLY, the A1A and Jetty Park projects are completed!! How many years were they the primary topic for our Annual meetings? For the first time in four years, Tracy Telle isn’t speaking explaining why things have been delayed. We have attempted to keep you informed over these years with monthly postings on the SBA website. Recently, a reporter for a local magazine asked if I liked the completed A1A project and the new Jetty Park. Really a silly question – and I responded with an equally silly answer, “What’s not to like!” As we promised – it was worth waiting for.
Over the past year we sent you 10 email Newsletters – 6 of them dealt primarily with Port. So let me review what happened in 2013 regarding the Port.
FDOT and AECOM held their public charrette on March 23, 2013. In August 2013 they presented their report to a joint meeting of City and County Commissioners. The report purportedly reflected the 12 tables of participants at the charrette as to what they, the public, wanted to see happen in the development of the Port. I read the entire report and attended every minute of the charrette, There are concerns that this report reflects FDOT/AECOM’s thinking rather than the participants in some notable areas namely increased cargo and tank farms. I can tell you that there was not one mention of tank farms at the charrette yet they were inserted in the report as a potential use. In fact, the notion of a tank farm did not surface until well after the charrette. Thankfully, a tank farm at our Port is now a dead issue.
The manner in which the report indicated overwhelming support for increased cargo would be amusing if it were not so serious. They provided a check list of what each table supported in a multitude of areas. Imagine my surprise when I noted that my table – one that I chaired – had a check mark next to increased cargo! We did support the existing 11 acre IRT for cargo and suggested that their infrastructure including the bulkheads, be upgraded and improved. I was told by the AECOM representative that prepared the checklist that they interpreted extending the bulkheads a few feet further into the water constituted their definition of “increasing the cargo area” even though it did not change the land footprint. To my recollection, there was only 1 table out of 12 that supported true expanded cargo and one table that had a slight increase – out of 12 tables.
But let’s move on – City and County Commissioners decided to have the Harbor Advisory Committee recommend those projects at the Port that were not controversial – ones that all could agree with – ones that would be a positive addition no matter what type of development might come. At the second joint commission meeting, the commissioners approved the HAC recommendations and planned to submit these additions as a amendment to the current Port Master Plan so as to be eligible for funding and before a total review of the Master Plan. The recommendations were to add “marine academic and vocational uses and a blue ribbon panel to develop a path to establishing a Maritime Academy” and infrastructure projects for Harbor Point (the county 20 acres) shoreline protection, refurbish and/or improve City Marina bulkheads and Fisherman’s wharf. None of these relate to increased cargo. These amendments have been sent to the State for their approval.
What remains now is to deal with the longer term review/revision of the entire Master Plan. I’ll talk about that process in the Preview of 2014 segment.
Let’s move to something less complicated. I trust you all saw and appreciated the SBA Holiday lights this year. With the completion of the A1A project we were able to add the roundabout at Seaway and South Ocean Drives to the Harbour Isle roundabout and South Beach Park. Christine Coke personally made all of the wreaths and our Public Works Department was invaluable in getting everything up. They promise to secure the electrical outlets at the new roundabout for next year so they are not tripped off so easily by moisture.
Code Enforcement had a busy year on the beach. There were 141 violations reported. Many of them were for lot clearing, outside storage and general property maintanence. However, doing business without a tax certificate and turtle lighting also made the list. Some properties had as many as 6-7 violations. As I indicated in the introduction, we have a new code enforcement officer for the beach – Isaac Saucedo. Please call his direct number 467-3143 to report a violation. If you are not sure if something is in violation – call and let them make the determination and you remain anonymous.
We continue to have a growing cadre of volunteers who give their time picking up trash and debris and cleaning in our parks and beaches. This year the group is averaging over 100 hours a month more than equaling two weeks of a city employee’s time. Some of these folks don’t live on the beach but they care about it. If you are interested in joining this group see me after the meeting.
Little happened regarding proposed new development on the beach in the Planning Department over the past year so there is not a separate report this year. You may recall that I have spoken about the Land Development Regulation rewrite for too many years and nothing had come to completion. It was decided to take sections piecemeal rather than as a total package. After many fingers had been in the pie, a large section called a “Use Table” was finally passed by the Commission. It is an attempt to place all the zoning districts in the City with their uses permitted, permitted with Conditional use or not permitted at all in one comprehensive table making the regulations more user friendly and bringing them up to date. We followed this to completion. At the present time the Planning Department Manager indicates that there are several areas ripe for revisiting but there is no time table.
This concludes the overview of 2013.