Future Dunkin’ Donuts Brings Traffic Concerns
The main discussion at Gulfport’s City Council meeting held Tuesday, November 21 was how the drive through at the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts on Gulfport Boulevard would be accessed and exited. The resolution proposed two options: Option A would allow drive-through access on Gulfport Boulevard and also on 56th Street S.; Option B would allow access/exit only via 56th Street S.
Derrick Oberschall of CSC Properties in Clearwater spoke on behalf of the new Dunkin’ Donuts franchise saying, “The ideal plan would give us an entrance on Gulfport Boulevard and 56th.”
The drive-through conditional-use resolution Option A – the option recommended after review by the Planning and Zoning Board on November 1 – was approved 3-2 by council following a lengthy discussion.
Both Mayor Sam Henderson and Councilmember Michael Fridovich voted no and expressed concerns with the plan.
“I am not in favor of anything that goes onto 56th Street,” said Fridovich.
Henderson agreed. “We deal with something that is a lot different from larger cities,” he said. “Our business districts are close to the residents that live on those same streets.”
The resolution was for the use of the entrance and exit of the restaurant only and not for permission to build or anything else associated with the restaurant.
“You are only approving conditional use,” said City Manager Jim O’Reilly. “Noise, lighting and traffic can be addressed later on the sight-plan level.”
Future Sewer Work Discussed
Gulfport Public Works Director Don Sopak reported on the Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Survey (SSES) phase one construction progress. As part of the SSES council approved a state revolving fund loan with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for $2,518,703. This money went towards closed circuit TV inspection by Cardno of 123,000 linear feet of pipeline, which started in May.
The results of this inspection facilitated contractor bids in June for open cut work.
“Digging a hole down deep and repairing pipe is called ‘open cut work,’” said Sopak. “There is a December 4, 2017 notice to begin construction to complete identified priority-one repairs from SSES report.”
Priority one repairs will be addressed over the next five years while over the next 25 years condition assessments will be done on manholes, as well as other assessments for keeping groundwater and storm water out of the system.
“We are way ahead of the game,” said the retiring Sopak, who was thanked by the council for his many years of service to Gulfport.
For full coverage of the ongoing sewer project, see article on page XX.
Parental Leave Resolution Passes
Council unanimously revised rules for parental leave and leave of absence for city employees.
“Basically what we are doing is creating gap insurance where the employee receives their salary and doesn’t wait until the workers comp check arrives,” said O’Reilly. “The second benefit is four weeks additional leave for birth, addition or adoption of a child.”
O’Reilly explained that this would be competitive with larger cities in the area.
Roman Proposes Gun Control Resolution
Ward 3 Councilmember Yolanda Roman submitted for approval a resolution to “express support for gun control,” and create a “Gulfport position statement expressing public safety.”
The resolution failed 4-1, however, with councilmembers expressing concern over wording and the fact that there are state and federal laws that take precedence over any positions provided within.
“We already have laws on the books for over half of the items in this document,” said Councilmember Dan Liedtke.
Despite not voting for the resolution, Councilmember Christine Brown suggested Roman draw up a letter expressing Gulfport’s position.
Mayor Henderson agreed. “I think resolutions should come when there is something we have a sense of unity on,” he said. “I would love to see a letter put together, and anyone could be signatory to it, or pen their own.”
Habitat for Humanity Director Speaks in Public Forum
Jack Shanks of Palm Harbor, director of volunteer services of Pinellas Habitat for Humanity, announced that his organization is close to completing their second home in Gulfport.
“I would like to invite everyone to the dedication of a new home on December 13 at 4 p.m.,” he said. Shanks explained that each home takes over 1,000 manhours to complete and that they are always looking for volunteers. According to Shanks, Habitat Pinellas has built 443 new homes in the county.
Halloween Decoration Winners Announced
The winners of Gulfport’s Halloween Decorations Contest were announced at Tuesday’s meeting, with winner’s taking home a plaque and bragging rights until next season. The winners were:
General Theme: Mark & Sonya Walling
Haunted House Theme: Kathy Aumiller
Commercial Theme: the Gulfport Beach Bazaar (not pictured)