The affected residential area is on 27th Avenue S. between 58th Street and 59th Street, and from 27th Avenue S. to Gulfport Blvd.
City staff report that often, contractor vehicles block access to driveways and restrict the flow of vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the area. Exhaust fumes and noise from contractors talking and playing music from their vehicles has also become an early-morning nuisance.
A group of 54 residents signed a petition asking for relief and presented a collection of 37 photos to the city documenting the situation.
“The police chief has spoken to the club and asked them to take ownership of the issue and they declined,” said City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
The council listened to a presentation from Gulfport Police Commander Mary Farrand, who displayed the images provided by the residents that showed everything from 18-wheel trucks to passenger vehicles waiting in line in the area on various days.
The center lane is covered by state statute, said O’Reilly. “They can’t just be standing, blocking and obstructing traffic.”
The new signage will now stop them from parking along the side of the roadways. The signs will arrive in 21 to 30 days, said O’Reilly.
Council also directed city staff to recontact the homeowner’s association at the club to ask about moving the gate opening time to 7 a.m.
“They’re causing a great deal of problems for the rest of the city,” said Vice Mayor Michael Fridovich, who advocated to “help the residents now” and “look at alternatives.”
Councilwoman Christine Brown, Ward 2, said, “We need to give it a chance to see how it works. Ask [club] residents to tell contractors not to show up until 8 a.m. to try to work from inside of the gates and outside the gates as well. We can keep making it bigger and bigger rather than pulling it back.”
“Let’s give them another shot before we get antagonistic,” said Mayor Sam Henderson.
Shore Boulevard Recreation Trail to get pavers, new trees
A resolution adding $100,000 of funding for the trail project from BP monies was approved Tuesday and means red brick pavers will now be used instead of asphalt to construct the new parking and crosswalk areas.
Will people “roast” their “feet or do they provide protection like being around your pool would?” asked resident Stan Kreuter during the public comment.
That “kind of depends on how tender your feet are,” said Councilmember Dan Liedtke, Ward 1.
“It’s supposed to be cooler than asphalt,” said Henderson. “We all know how hot that blacktop gets. That’s the idea of doing an alternative surfacing.”
In addition, four palm trees marked with yellow tape are being removed and 18 new ones will be planted as part of the landscaping portion of the project.
Construction will begin immediately after the 4th of July holiday and the planned completion date is by September 30, said O’Reilly.
A 3.2 percent rate hike in water and sewer fees moves forward
Council approved on Tuesday the first reading of this “normal operation” ordinance, said O’Reilly.
Residents will be notified about the action in their utility bills and the second reading will occur at a council meeting at the end of August or beginning of September.
If approved, the ordinance will go into effect in the next full billing cycle after October 1, said O’Reilly.
A sixth tier for abundant water users that exceed 20,000 gallons per month is also part of the measure and is designed to make revenue or encourage conservation, said O’Reilly.
The average home in Gulfport uses from 4,000 to 5,000 gallons of water per month, according to the city manager. Institutional users and people doing a one-time fill of a large swimming pool may be affected.
Council offers ‘condolences’ to victims of Orlando shooting
In addition to Brown leading a moment of silence at the beginning of the local meeting Tuesday, council is also providing a formal letter of solidarity to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and that city’s council members regarding the June 12 mass shooting.
The letter says, in part, “The City of Gulfport offers its deepest condolences and moral support to the families and friends of those who lost their lives during the heinous shooting which took place in your great city. We are saddened and outraged by this act of violence but we must collectively resist the urge to answer hate with hate, and work instead to act in the spirit of acceptance, compassion and healing.”
The letter will be accompanied by a painting made by local artist Jo Silverleaf that has been signed by many Gulfport residents. The lettering on the painting reads: “Gulfport Loves Orlando.”