February 9, 2012
The most visable, ongoing event on South Beach has been the A1A project. We have all experienced delays and detours. This Annual Meeting will be the LAST one to showcase the progress of this project. The estimated time for completion is October this year including the roundabout. Tracy Telle will take us through the final steps to completion later on in the program.
Talking about roads, we made you aware of a proposed study to reconfigure our bridge to the Island to two vehicle lanes in order to better and more safely accommodate bikers and walkers. We emailed you and provided a direct link to the TPO site so you could see the plans for yourself. We urged you to attend the public meeting on Saturday September 17th. The turnout was excellent – the TPO organizers were amazed – they usually get only a handful at public meetings. Due to your input, which was primarily opposed to the study, the project has gone to the bottom of the list not to see the light of day to our knowledge. Keep this in mind – public input does matter. It is not an exercise in futility.
It is no secret that the City Code Enforcement Department has fewer employees than before. They are no longer able to be pro active – meaning surveying the areas and finding violations all over the City. In the main, they respond to complaints.
Our Code Enforcement Officer for the Beach has an area that runs all the way to 10th Avenue including US 1. A seemingly impossible task. Yet over the past year over 95 properties on the Beach were cited for violations. These range from lot clearing, to property and landscape maintenance, to non-operable vehicles parked on the property, to doing business without a tax license. So if you see something that doesn’t seem quite right, please call our code enforcement officer Shaun Coss at 460-2200 X272. It is better to call and find that something isn’t a violation than let something fester. If you have a Code or Animal Control issue see Peggy Arraiz at the end of the meeting
Our Beach and Parks report will be covered by Richard Bouchard talking about beach erosion and sand renourishment – the latter currently underway – and Tracy Telle telling about the new plans for Jetty Park. But there is one group that has been working since August 2009 that should be recognized. There are individuals and couples wearing “Keep Fort Pierce Beautiful” tee shirts and caps that volunteer to assist the City in keeping our parks pristine. They have no set hours and work at their own pace picking up trash with grabbers, cleaning off tables and reporting anything that needs to be fixed. It is a small but dedicated cadre. If any of you are here tonight please stand. If you would like to join this group, please see Arden at the end of the meeting.
Once again, the South Beach Association made a donation to the Annual City Holiday lights on Melody Lane in downtown Ft. Pierce. Those lights are such a unifying force for our City. But we also sponsored Holiday lights at our South Beach Park. Thanks to Christine we had a modest display that I hope you all enjoyed.
You may have noticed that some of the light poles along the new part of the A1A project have projections to hold banners. These exist only on the poles with double lights. Downtown and throughout the City there are banners on such poles. We are exploring securing appropriate Beach banners for the approximately 90 poles to be along A1A. To be weather resistant, they are not inexpensive. If you have some thoughts about this, please see Christine at the end of the meeting.
You will note that I have not mentioned the planned Charrette for properties on South Beach. It was scheduled and postponed – scheduled and postponed. I will talk more about it later.
Finally, there is an issue before the City and County that is of great import to us all – not just South Beach but the entire County. It appears that the Port Master Plan for the Port of Fort Pierce is required to be updated by State Regulation since it has been effect for 10 years. FDOT, the Florida Department of Transportation, has asked to study and will fund, the potential for expanded cargo operations at the Port of Fort Pierce. Understand that the County Commission is the Port Authority and the City is charge of permitting, zoning and codes. Over 10 years ago, a public referendum was held that supported the notion of “limited” cargo operations at the port – such as we have now – and mixed use operations such as mega yachts, marine industry, recreational, residential and other commercial uses. The current Port Master Plan was created after many hours of discussion and compromise and is approved and incorporated into the Comprehensive Plans of both the County and City. The question FDOT purports to ask is “Has public opinion changed over the years to support a more expanded cargo operation at the Port and should the Port Master Plan be updated”? The Harbor Advisory Committee has cautioned that the FDOT study should consider more than just cargo operations and if this is not the case, then the County and City should adopt a parallel study that represents ALL interests. This issue is much more complicated than what appears on the surface. Also remember that a majority of the land at the Port is privately owned.
We have no idea of how or when FDOT will attempt to access current public attitudes about the port nor what venues they will provide for public input. Also, be aware that the Port Master Plan is about more than just cargo operations – which is all FDOT initially said they plan to study. Recently, I have been told by a consultant to FDOT that they will include more than just cargo expansion. One must be leery about their intentions. Be assured that we will keep you informed. We believe that the best public input comes from a knowledgeable public. Next week we will send an email Newsletter to members with a “click here” link to the current
Port Master plan that can you read and/or download. It is difficult to comment on an update or revision if you don’t know what the original is. We will also have a link to an Editorial in the Tribune that appeared January 10th that summarizes the issue very well. We urge you to read both. This can become a “hot button” issue with hysteria at both extremes. Does that sound familiar? But – remember – public input matters – so be ready – become informed and don’t be hysterical! If you have questions, concerns or suggestions see your City and County Commissioners at the end of the meeting,