Road Banners and Sewer Talk at Council

Tuesday night’s regular Gulfport City Council meeting December 20, and last of the year, started with a seasonally appropriate donation. Former mayor Mike Yakes presented $1000 check to Gulfport’s Tot Time program. The money was raised for the program through the Mike Yakes (MY) Foundation.

“Tot Time is very important to the families of Gulfport,” said Yakes as he presented the check.

Boulevards Get Bling

Gulfport Merchants Association (GMA) President Scott Linde unveiled the design for the banners that will be adorning Shore and Beach Boulevards, as well as some of Gulfport Boulevard.

“It was a little bit of a difficult creative challenge” coming up with one unifying image to represent Gulfport, he said. “It represents a lot of things to a lot of people.”

So rather than one image, the proposed banners will “tell a story” about the town, he explained, with five different designs.

The waterfront, live music, dining  and art will all be represented graphically.

And, as Linde said, “What would the grouping be without the inimitable gecko?”

The ubiquitous lizard that has come to be the unofficial mascot of the town with the  association’s various gecko-themed events will also be featured on the road banners.

“This was [the product of] our creative team along with our graphic artist Zac Knight, who is also the graphic artist for the Gabber,” said Linde.

According to City Manager Jim O’Reilly, the city will be able to purchase approximately 100 of the colorful roadside decorations.

“It’s us,” said Linde. “It feels like us, it talks about us, and I think it will get people’s attention. Isn’t that the whole idea behind it?”

When it was proposed the GMA might also have their logo on the banners, Linde demurred, saying, “We don’t need to advertise us. We just want to bring people here.”

Roman proposed a plaque or other commemoration for the GMA acknowledging their efforts and design of the project.

Later in the meeting council approved the purchase of the banners and Vice Mayor Fridovich asked if the banners could also be put on 49th Street. O’Reilly replied that funding for banners on 49th Street would have to come out of the city’s general fund as the initial banners would be purchased with money specifically allotted for the Waterfront Redevelopment District and adjacent areas.

Sewers Set to Move Forward

Gulfport Public Works Director Don Sopak and Don McCuller from the engineering firm Cardno gave council an update on the Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Survey Program and the next steps involved in the sewer repair process.

McCuller explained the evaluation is complete. In September, the FDEP approved the Phase I report, and Wastewater Facility Plan, which allowed the city to apply for an SRF construction loan and additional CCTV work.

The next step is to finalize the documentation, begin the bidding/award process and start Phase I–Priority I repairs identified by the initial CCTV work. Additional CCTV work will also follow.

According to the report, the initial phase I sewer repairs will likely begin in the summer of 2017.

According to O’Reilly, the city has committed approximately 4.7 million dollars to date on the project that initially began in 2014 and is expected to continue for the next five years.

See the presentation report, including the estimated schedule, maps of where the phase I repairs will take place as well as anticipated phase II CCTV sections here.

City Hall Closed

At the end of Tuesday’s meeting it was announced that City Hall will be closed on Monday, December 26 and Monday, January 2.

Overheard at the December 20, 2016 City Council Meeting

“That’s because we’re ahead of the game.” – Councilmember Christine Brown on the point that Gulfport began the current sewer repair project in 2014.

“You can’t just pick a sewer and do something. You have to look at it . … We’ve done a lot.” – Councilmember Yolanda Roman commending the work done by Public Works and the engineering firm Cardno in evaluating the sewers and identifying priority areas for Phase I repairs, a process that began in 2014. She emphasized the point for those who believe the city has not invested in sewer repairs.

“We can’t campaign in here. This is the place where we do the city business so I’m going to encourage everyone not to do shirts with the names on it, pins, hats, buttons, satchels, whatever. And certainly not in your dialogue.” –  Mayor Sam Henderson in a warning prior to public comment in the first council meeting since the candidates for the March municipal elections were announced.

“Each of you has a copy of the United States Constitution, what it says and what it means. That is my gift to all of you. I hope we stand by the constitution in these difficult times.” – Richard Fried, candidate for the Ward 4 council seat, before reading an excerpt from “Horton Hears a Who” by Dr. Seuss.

“We’ll have to decide what we’re going to do with moving forward on the mooring field because the money is specifically attributed to the mooring field.” – Roman on the $100,000 of BP money the Board of County Commissioners has awarded Gulfport for a mooring field. Once the documentation goes through, O’Reilly said he will come back to council to decide how to move forward. Council has not yet voted to move ahead with a mooring field.

“It’s a great time of year to shop local.” – Brown

“What he went through was a litany of things that he liked about this town. … That’s about the nicest verbal Christmas card I could have received.” – Henderson on recently meeting a resident down at the marina.

“Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa and every other holiday that I’ve probably forgotten. I don’t want to offend anyone.” – Vice Mayor Michael Fridovich



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