With a fire destroying the porch of the Gulfport History Museum the day before, skate park plans and a budget to approve, Gulfport City Council had a lot to go over at the Tuesday, September 5 meeting.
Discussed since 2016, when the skate park at the Tomlinson Park Complex was shut down for refurbishment, ideas for a new project have been mulled over with no approved plans.
At the September 5 meeting, council unanimously approved the park, which will be located at the Michael J. Yakes Recreation Complex at 5730 Shore Boulevard. The current bid for the project is $199,772.50 by Tampa Contracting Services.
“I’m pretty excited about it, I think this is great for, especially that middle age kid who is too old for the playground,” said Vice Mayor Christine Brown. “It’s such a great sport for them.”
According to City Manager Jim O’Reilly, the building of the park will take anywhere from 90 to 120 days once the city meets with a contractor and will have no age limit or price for residents.
The jumps will be constructed out of concrete, which is a quiet option that requires less upkeep.
“They’re virtually maintenance free; these concrete parts just last forever,” said Nick Nicks, co-founder of the St. Pete Skatepark Alliance. “It’s definitely not as noisy as wood or metal rims.”
Councilmember Dan Liedtke, who, at the August 7 council meeting, said he could not vote on the project without seeing additional details, approved the plans upon seeing an aerial map of the soon-to-be skate park.
“I did want to ask about making one tweak to the plan: Shouldn’t there be a bigger deck on here?” said Liedtke, gesturing to the main skate jump on the conceptual drawing. “Also, I want to make sure when we do this that we get the trees that we see in the picture, can you guarantee that we will have 15 to 20 trees on that side?”
A few residents at the meeting expressed concern about the three-foot fence that will line the skate park.
“A 36-inch fence is fine,” said Liedtke. “I don’t think we’re going to have a bunch of old ladies jumping it at night.”
Council Approves First Reading of 2018-19 Budget
The meeting opened with the unanimous approval of the first reading for the adoption of the operating budget for fiscal year 2018-19. A second and final vote will be held on the budget at the meeting on September 18.
If approved on September 18, the annual budget will go into effect starting October 1 of this year and ending September 30, 2019. According to O’Reilly, the budget stands at $26,514,647.
“Well done. The process was good,” said Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson. “We had plenty of time for input.”
For more information on the 2018-19 City of Gulfport budget visit mygulfport.us/fiscal-year-2019-city-of-gulfport-proposed-budget.
The council also approved an ordinance that will create a $1 increase to monthly stormwater bills beginning in 2019.
“This is part of our long-term financial plan regarding our utilities,” said O’Reilly.
Council Addresses History Museum Fire
During the early morning hours of September 4, 56-year-old David Knoll was arrested for suspected arson at the Gulfport History Museum.
“We did have a fire in town and I’m sure everyone knows about it,” said Brown.
With this happening Labor Day, a day before the council meeting, council members brought it up without any public comment.
“I’m really thankful to the local people who caught it and called right away,” said Vice Mayor Brown, who lives near the museum. “My daughter heard the sirens and woke us up.”
Firefighters were called in quickly, but not before the historic building suffered $25,000 worth of damage.
“I really wanted to thank the police department and the fire department for the quick response,” said Councilmember Paul Ray. “It was put out so quickly with minimum amounts of damage.”
Mayor Sam Henderson brought up potentially adding more fire extinguishers, possibly digitizing the museum’s collection and a creating a fireproof room.
“I hadn’t thought about a fireproof room but I know that digitizing the collection is a $30,000 bill,” Brown said.