March 13 City Commission Meeting
At the March 13 city commission meeting, much of the agenda concerned the ongoing Pass-a-Grille Way reconstruction project. The commission approved an addendum to an item authorizing City Manager Wayne Saunders to enter into a cooperative funding agreement with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) for the final 70 percent of design as well as the construction of Phase II of the project from 19th Avenue to 1st Avenue. Based on the information provided to SWFWMD by city staff and consultants, the district has earmarked up to $3.1 million in matching reimbursement funds for the remaining 70 percent of the design plans and construction for Phase II of the project.
“A lot of people have been asking when the project will be completed,” said Commissioner Ward Friszolowski.
City Manager Wayne Saunders estimated the date of completion to be “June or early July” and said he would keep the website updated throughout the project so people could access any new information.
“Residents participating in the bi-monthly meetings seem to understand what’s going on,” said Commissioner Melinda Pletcher.
Pletcher also noted that there has been damage reported to some vehicles in the area due to construction.
The public services director holds community meetings every first and third Thursday of the month from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Warren Webster Building regarding the Pass-a-Grille Way reconstruction project. Updates can be found at stpetebeach.org/pass-a-grille-way-reconstruction-1.html.
March 28 City Commission Meeting
The first order of business was a presentation by Vice Mayor Rick Faleknstein and the rest of the commission in recognition of outgoing Mayor Deborah Schechner, who served as interim mayor from July 2016 to March 2017 after Mayor Maria Lowe moved to France with her family. Falkenstein thanked Schechner for “representing the city in a very classy way.”
Schechner thanked her supporters and volunteers, the commission, the city staff and employees and the residents of St. Pete Beach, and stressed “transparency” in government.
Installation and oath of office was administered for incoming Mayor Alan Johnson, as well as Vice Mayor Rick Falkenstein and Commissioner Melinda Pletcher who ran unopposed. Johnson promised an “open door,” stating that the “more input he can get, the better the city will be.”
The commission unanimously approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the International Association of Firefighters, Local 4966, with a retroactive effective date of October 1, 2016. The agreement was prepared by special counsel. Salary negotiations are ongoing and should be ready for a commission vote soon, according to Saunders.