It’s that time of year when the Gulfport City Council takes a big-picture look at its goals for the short and long term.
Guided by City Manager Jim O’Reilly, the topics at the regular Tuesday, April 16 meeting ranged from what’s happening now to project visions to think about over the next five years.
Public records in the form of photos, documents and videos that have been traditionally made available on the city’s website in the spirit of transparency are in the process of being “remediated” or brought into compliance with guidelines associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), said David Mather, director of library and information technology.
While the update process is occurring, materials like meeting agendas, minutes, memorandums and videos have been removed from the website, he said.
Councilmembers and city staff discussed the update process, timeline and costs then agreed to aim for June regarding making city council meeting materials available once again on the website.
At that time, updates will include videos with closed captioning. Later in the year, content from other city meetings, like the Board of Adjustment along with the Planning and Zoning Board, could also be made available.
Moving forward, the goal is to have all website content meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, said Mather.
Councilmember Dan Liedtke asked for staff to research what it would take to make historical and future city meeting videos and documents available in the Gulfport Public Library.
In the meantime, public records are available by contacting Lesley DeMuth, city clerk and records custodian.
The 2019 Gulfport Citizens Police Academy Graduates
New Marina Boatlifts Approved
Council unanimously approved the purchase and installation of 20 new boatlifts at the Gulfport Municipal Marina as part of their continuing investment in that facility. Enterprise Marine of St. Petersburg was awarded the contract for $263,780.
Denis Frain, marina director, explained that 12 lifts would accommodate center console boats up to 25 feet in length while eight larger lifts would take care of craft with twin outboards up to 32 feet.
According to city documentation, the upgrade is expected to increase marina occupancy and revenue. The lifts will be installed into unoccupied berths in the marina basin that have been previously reserved for the Boca Ciega Yacht Club (BCYC).
Breakwater Linear Park Progress
The peninsula of city-owned land that borders the marina and Boca Ciega Bay will soon start showing signs of development as it transforms into an eco-friendly public park.
Cardno Engineering, a national firm with offices in Tampa Bay, has been developing and designing what the 40- to 50-foot by 450-foot park will look like.
Features will include a living shoreline and ADA accessible benches, said Frain. For more information about living shorelines in Florida, visit floridadep.gov/rcp/rcp/content/living-shorelines.
The scope of the project was originally proposed by Mayor Sam Henderson and city councilmembers during the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget sessions based on previous public discussion meetings, said O’Reilly.
Because of the linear park’s proximity to BCYC and the marina, Henderson asked that councilmembers and staff think about future options for use of the land and aging building that the club leases from the city.
For the 2019-2020 fiscal year, recurring capital improvement projects that have been identified include upgrades to the sanitary sewer system, streets, sidewalks and alleys including routine replacement of police and fire vehicles, said O’Reilly.
Replacement of the Recreation Department’s aging school bus should be a priority, he said.
Budget costs associated with Williams Pier include $275,000 that will take care of immediate repairs while the long-term replacement expenditure could reach $1 million, said O’Reilly. A future pier feature to think about would be including additional slips as Gulfport continues to be a destination location for boaters.
The city is also looking into an annex plan that could include property and an associated building located at the corner of Gulfport Boulevard South and Beach Boulevard.
Outsourcing code enforcement, including the vacation rentals ordinance, to contractors is also being considered.
Changes to the Senior Center facility are also being researched to accommodate the ever-evolving needs of an active and aging population, said O’Reilly.
Gulfport is a “community of a lifetime,” said Councilmember Christine Brown. The city offers programs that range “from voluntary prekindergarten education to the senior center.”
Henderson also favors the city’s autonomy.
“It gives us a greater say over how we do business and how we provide a level of service but it also gives us a little bit more street credibility at the bargaining table regionally because we have our own police, fire and sanitation departments. We’re not a city that’s relying solely on outside forces to keep us going. It’s not like we don’t need regional, state and federal money and grants and things like that. We should always go for those at every opportunity. But, the more autonomy we have, the greater say we have in our future.”