Food bank recipients, residents and visitors were winners Tuesday, June 7, as Gulfport City Council approved a key business partnership involving weekly donations and unanimously passed a measure to create a bayside recreation trail along Shore Boulevard.
Beginning Sunday, Winn Dixie in South Pasadena will begin donating their scratch and dent canned goods to the Gulfport Multipurpose Center Pantry, which is available to residents aged 50 and older. Fresh items such as bagged salads, milk and other dairy items began flowing into the pantry’s refrigerators on Sunday, June 5, said Glen Blickenstaff, manager of Winn Dixie.
“Winn Dixie does an annual sponsorship of a county-level food pantry, but I wanted to get engaged in the local community,” said Blickenstaff. “Most of the time pantries are restricted to canned goods. Right now, we can meet 100 percent of their needs and it’s scalable as it grows. No one wants to see anyone go hungry.”
“Back in early November, I approached Glen Blickenstaff about Winn Dixie participating in the Senior Center program to help us with food,” said Vice Mayor Michael Fridovich. “Every week, this partnership will take care of our needs.”
Blickenstaff is also planning on partnering with the cities of Gulfport and South Pasadena to host informational and entertainment related events in his expansive parking lot such as hurricane preparedness. “We’ll help with product and vendor concessions,” said Blickenstaff. “And, all of the proceeds will go to the pantry.”
Shore Boulevard Recreation Trail Construction Will Begin July 5
The bid for the Shore Boulevard project was approved at Tuesday’s council meeting and will not exceed $800,000, said City Manager Jim O’Reilly. “Gulfport’s portion of this project will be about $400,000,” he noted, “and $300,000 is coming from a Pinellas County Community Development Block Grant.”
Construction is scheduled to begin July 5 with completion by September 30, said O’Reilly.
The project includes pavers for the Shore Boulevard beach parking area to eliminate the potholes that occur after rainstorms, new sidewalks, landscaping and a two-foot sitting wall along the parking area adjacent to the street. Streetlights have already been replaced in the Waterfront District. Benches and water fountains are also planned along with at least one pet-friendly fountain depending on cost, he said. The color scheme for the pavers hasn’t been selected yet.
City Staff Receives Praise for TS Colin Efforts
“I want to compliment my staff regarding their efforts during and after the storm,” O’Reilly said. By 5 p.m. Tuesday, “all seven vessels were removed” that had hit the pier, the Casino dock or that had run aground. Staff helped with the sandbag tent and set barricades to close off streets, moving them as needed. “Everyone stepped up.”
City staff also cleared tree limbs from streets and alleys.
“A 60-foot laurel oak fell in my neighborhood,” said Mayor Sam Henderson. City workers “came down and they cleared that thing up in three-and-a-half hours [on Tuesday].”
In the county emergency management meeting, “we were watching [Fire] Chief [James V.] Marenkovic rattling off ‘We already did that. We already did this.’ It was nice to see everybody really being proactive. It inspired confidence,” said Henderson.
Utility Rate Hike Pending Council Approval
“The increase is part of normal operation,” said O’Reilly. “The council agreed to have city staff prepare an ordinance that would pass along the estimated 3.2 percent increase in water and sewer services for the next fiscal year, which begins in October.” This ordinance will be presented to the council during one of the next two regular meetings. Gulfport has always purchased water and sewer services from the city of St. Petersburg and the 30-year contract is set to expire in October 2018. Upon contract renewal, St. Petersburg will add a 25 percent surcharge to Gulfport’s wholesale rate, which is allowed by state statute, and this increase will then be passed along to residents at that time.
Proposed Raise for City Employees is 3 Percent
The city manager will be providing the council with a proposed city budget for the next fiscal year and in it, city employees are scheduled to receive a 3 percent cost of living salary increase.