Council Approves History Museum Fire Repairs, Restoration

The city’s insurance policy will cover the repairs to flooring along with holes in the wall and ceiling areas of the History Museum created by firefighters during a September 3 fire.

Soon, the Gulfport History Museum will be undergoing architectural repairs and restoration following a September 3 fire thanks to approval of the city’s $115,458 insurance claim by council on Tuesday, October 2.

Firefighters from Gulfport, St. Petersburg and South Pasadena worked together on the morning of Labor Day Monday to save the museum. The majority of the exterior damage occurred on the front porch.

The wooden building, which is about 100 years old, is locally designated as historical. Because of this, the council needed to vote on any proposed changes including repairs and restoration, said City Manager Jim O’Reilly.

Both the structure and contents are covered by the city’s insurance that has a $1,000 deductible, said O’Reilly.

According to city documentation, the total cost for structural repairs by Signal Restoration Services, a national-level corporation, will not exceed $93,000 while $22,458 is earmarked to Art Recovery Technologies of Tampa and Orlando to restore contents that were damaged by smoke or water.

The process begins with design and engineering that includes permitting by the city, said O’Reilly. Work on the building and its contents will begin in about one month depending on the permitting workflow.

The non-profit Gulfport Historical Society runs the museum located at 5301 28th Ave. S. and curates the collection. The city owns the History Museum building and related land, which is leased to the society for $1 per year.

Strawless Summer Challenge a Success

From July 1 through September 30, a total of 23 Gulfport restaurants, bars and cafes agreed to voluntarily participate in a city-sponsored initiative called the Strawless Summer Challenge that was designed to eliminate the routine use of single-use plastic straws in an effort to protect wildlife and the environment.

By taking the pledge, the businesses are spotlighted for one year on the following city webpage (visit and their logos will be featured on an advertising banner that will be located on the north fence line of the beach volleyball courts, said Cultural Facilities Events Supervisor Justin Shea.

Plastic straws were not provided unless requested by a customer, said Shea. Many businesses switched to paper straws as an alternative.

Though the 90-day challenge has formally ended, businesses are expected to keep the momentum going on a voluntary basis, said O’Reilly.

Some businesses will expand the effort to include using wooden as opposed to plastic drink stirrers along with providing eco-friendly alternatives to plastic utensils, bags and Styrofoam containers for take-out orders, said Shea.

“I would like to thank Terry Foster because she was the head of the plastic-free initiative in the city of Gulfport,” said Shea. He also thanked everyone in the city who participated.

New Beach Wifi Will Be Free

Thanks to a unanimous approval of a resolution by council, it will soon be easier to enjoy high-definition video from the internet while at the Casino or beach.

The three-year agreement with Spectrum/Charter will add a new fiber optic connection at the Casino with guaranteed upload and download speeds of 50mbps. The high-speed wifi signal will include the Casino and extend along the beach area to the Recreation Center, said Gulfport’s IT Director Dave Mather. 

The new service will be fast enough for people to enjoy high-definition streaming videos like those broadcast during volleyball tournaments, said Councilmember Dan Liedtke.

The monthly cost to the city will be $599 with a one-time installation fee of $250. The service will be available free to the public without the need for a password.

Water, Sewer Agreement Approved

Following negotiations at the administration and staff levels, a 10-year agreement for St. Petersburg to supply potable water and waste water services to Gulfport was recently achieved, said O’Reilly.

The current 30-year agreement between the two municipalities, dated October 6, 1988, ends on October 5, 2018.

Council unanimously approved the new interlocal agreement that will begin on October 6, 2018.

At the council’s June 19 meeting, Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. presented a Utility Rate Sufficiency Study that projected water and sewer rates over a 10-year period. Their study includes a variety of assumptions and conditions such as estimated annual wholesale rate increases from St. Petersburg at a rate of 3.25 percent over the next nine fiscal years.

For Gulfport consumers with an average monthly water usage volume of 4,000 gallons per month, the rate change will mean an increase of $1 per month during fiscal year 2019. Afterward, the rate will increase from 2020 through 2028 and will range from 2.5 percent to 8 percent depending on the fiscal year.


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