A steady stream of residents stepped up to speak about the possibility of a new senior center in Gulfport and about St. Petersburg’s affordable housing plan at Gulfport’s Tuesday, May 8 council meeting.
Feasibility Study Sparks Debate
Visitors to Gulfport’s Senior Center, located on 27th Avenue South, may have outgrown its space.
The city is considering entering a $10 million contract with Hartsook Companies to create a brand new senior center.
The question Tuesday evening: Can Gulfport raise the money?
“With the growing number of seniors, the role of centers like this is changing from what was needed five years ago,” said Senior Center Supervisor Rachel Cataldo.
Hartsook, a fundraising consulting firm, would work with the city to raise the $10 million needed for the construction of the building. According to Hartsook Senior Vice President, Jason Wood, the firm raises its funds through philanthropy.
However, before the city can enter into a contract with Hartsook, they have to complete a $45,000 feasibility survey that will determine if Gulfport has the means to raise money.
The survey will take three to five years and is not a guarantee to the money.
“I am in favor of building the senior center,” said Councilmember Christine Brown. “Maybe we should look into the possibility of asking other cities for money, because so many of our seniors come from surrounding areas.”
Not everyone was in favor of the survey.
“I think there is a lot we can do before we just go into a whole new senior center,” said Gulfport resident April Thanos.
The city will determine if it will approve the $45,000 survey at the next regular meeting on Tuesday, May 14.
Gulfport to Hold Meeting on St. Petersburg’s Housing Plan
In the last few weeks, the city of St. Petersburg has announced that it is considering buying Grace Connection Church at 635 64th St. S., on the border with Gulfport, and replacing it with affordable housing.
Even though the city of St. Petersburg will make the final decision, the housing plan will neighbor Gulfport’s Ward 3 territory.
“I just want my ward to be as informed as possible about all of this,” said Vice Mayor and Ward 3 representative Paul Ray.
Because of the connection, Ray plans to head a community meeting on Monday, May 13 at the Gulfport Neighborhood Center at 6:30 p.m.
The meeting, scheduled three days before St. Petersburg will make their decision, will be an informational slideshow by Ray and St. Petersburg city officials.
The potential housing has caused debate among property owners in the surrounding area.
“I would advise against a meeting,” said Councilmember Dan Liedtke. “I feel as if the information is already out there for people.”
Despite a few disagreements, the meeting was approved.
“I’m not going to shut down other councilmember’s ideas,” said Councilmember Michael Fridovich.
City’s Website to Comply with ADA Requirements
Remediation of the city of Gulfport’s website has been ongoing to bring the site’s content into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
At the Tuesday meeting, councilmembers made the final motion to enter into a contract with the ADA Site Compliance that will eventually remodel the website so that it is more accessible.
“It will be fixed, yes,” said David Mather, Gulfport’s IT director.
The remediation will cost the city $33,736 and the website will continue to have limited access for its users.
While a final completion date is unknown, the process will take several months. Those wishing for city documents, including meeting agendas in the interim should call the city clerk’s office at 727-893-1012.