Roman welcomed a full house to Scout Hall that night for a town hall meeting that addressed a wide range of topics.
“I want to hear as many people talk as possible,” Roman said. For those who did not get a chance to have their voices heard, comment cards were handed out to leave in the comment box.
A growing topic of concern for many attendees appeared to be the city’s aging infrastructure – more specifically, the sewers. Gulfport has roughly 60 miles of sewer underground and has allocated $335,000 annually for repairs. According to Roman, that’s not enough.
“I don’t think that $335,000 will get anything done in a substantial way,” Roman said. “That should be doubled or even tripled by 2016 in order to fix it.”
According to City Manager Jim O’Reilly, the money accepted by the city from the BP oil disaster will be discussed at the December 1 city council meeting. It is not yet known what they city will do with the money, but the atmosphere at the meeting on Thursday suggested it may be used for infrastructure.
Some residents at the meeting also expressed lingering concern over the potential new bike trail in Gulfport. Both Roman and O’Reilly assured the crowd, as the city has done on several occasions recently, that a new trail is still in the early stages of planning and nothing has been finalized.
Environmental topics in general also seemed at the fore at Thursday’s meeting.
With the rainy season ostensibly at its end, Pinellas County has lifted the fertilizer ban and, according to O’Reilly, Gulfport paved the way for such environmentally-friendly bans.
“The Pinellas County Fertilizer ordinance is based on the Gulfport ordinance,” O’Reilly said, adding that Gulfport was the first to introduce such an ordnance.
Those who attended the meeting were also issued copies of the 2015/2016 operating budget. The packet included information on fund allocations as well as information on capital improvement plans and fund analysis. That information can also be found online at mygulfport.us.