An engineering firm reported to Gulfport City Council at the regular meeting Tuesday, February 4 regarding local sanitary sewer system work done to date and provided specific recommendations for the future to decrease overflows onto streets and increase efficiency in connecting to St. Petersburg’s processing facilities.
Since 2014, the city has spent $4.357 million on projects that include flow monitoring, cleaning, root removal, closed-circuit television research, manhole inspections, mainline repairs and a unique lateral program, said Kelly Wehner, project manager with Cardno, a civil engineering firm with offices in the Tampa Bay area.
According to Cardno’s website, they are “a global infrastructure, environmental and social development company operating in more than 100 countries.” For years, the company has been doing business with the City of Gulfport.
On a timeline that extends to 2022, future recommendations include improvements at two lift stations at an estimated cost of $2.3 million, she said.
Some of the firm’s recommendations have already been scheduled and budgeted, said City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
The future changes will help to alleviate overflow incidents that currently occur along the lower elevations of Shore Boulevard “during peak rain events,” said Wehner.
Honoring Local POWs
During the informational reports segment of the meeting, Councilmember Michael Fridovich read portions of a letter he recently received from Mike J. Liles of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
In his letter, Liles recounted historical details of how his friend, Steven Jay Robin of Gulfport, served on the USS Pueblo during the conflict in Korea and how on January 23, 1968, the ship was attacked by the North Korean Navy wounding Robin and others. After the attack, Robin and 81 of his remaining crewmates were held for 11 months in a North Korean prison camp.
Robin died on July 28, 2008 at Bay Pines Veterans Administration Hospital.
According to the letter, Liles would like to honor Robin with a granite memorial and oak tree planted in Veteran’s Park.
Liles has pledged $2,500 as a start-up fund, said Fridovich.
“I would like to put together a memorial for all POWs with Gulfport connections sometime this spring. If you know of anyone who was a POW, please contact me,” said Fridovich.
Mayor’s Letter on Climate Change
Mayor Sam Henderson read a letter he will be sending to elected officials in Florida regarding climate change.
In part, the letter states, “One of the greatest disservices we have done for ourselves as a species and society is to allow environmental concerns to become fodder for political division. Regardless of our party affiliations and political perspectives, we have a common need for clean air and water, uncontaminated food and resiliency against natural hazards for both ourselves and our property.
“We call on you, our leaders and policy makers, to meet this problem head on from both sides of the aisle. Survival, security and prosperity are a bipartisan agenda. My father taught me at an early age to always leave a campsite cleaner than how you found it. This tiny blue marble is our only campsite, and our children are the next group of campers.
“Meaningful change to the laws, policies and regulations that manage carbon emissions must begin now.”
Casino Dock Mooring Violations
During the public comment portion of the meeting, several local live-aboard boat owners spoke about recent “mooring time limit” ordinance violations that had been issued at the Casino dock on Saturday, February 1 by the Gulfport Police Department followed by small vessels being impounded.
Some owners stated they were unaware of the rules. Most said they would like to work with the city to make dock mooring more accessible especially for those who need to come ashore for employment shifts that last longer than four hours.
Signs posted on the Casino dock titled “Dock Rules” detail a mooring time limit of four hours per 24-hour period along with the statement, “Abandoned personal property, including bicycles, will be confiscated.” City ordinance number 2015-08, section 6-13.13 “Public casino boat dock” is available online: library.municode.com/fl/gulfport/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=COOR_CH6BEBOBOWAST_ARTIINGE_S6-13MOWAMUPI.
Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent said on Tuesday, February 4 that a total of seven ordinance violations and related boat impounds were on record for February 1 as part of the department’s routine enforcement of the city’s 2015 ordinance.
One February 1 police Incident Detail Report concerning a mooring ordinance violation at the Casino dock states in the comments section, “A city employee documented multiple vessels over the four-hour time limit and wanted them removed. We are now using the city employees to document vessel time and to use them as a witness for city ordinance violations and impounds.”
Henderson asked the city manager about boating rules in the city, “Correct me if I’m wrong: We haven’t made any recent changes to those?”
“No. That’s correct,” said City Manager Jim O’Reilly. “Council adopted the rules approximately three to four years ago. It’s all covered in Chapter 6 of the city ordinances.”
Henderson added that the city cares about boaters and has shown this by investing money in the mooring field along with upgrades to the municipal marina and the transient dock by the Casino.
“If there are ways to think of to meet somewhere in the middle, we’ll certainly consider it,” Henderson said.