Gulfport City Council held a workshop for the 2016 budget on Thursday, June 11 and discussed several key issues including a bank foreclosure registry and the possibility of finally adding a mooring field to the waterfront.
Public comments saw overwhelming support for potential budget items.
Councilwoman Yolanda Roman’s project, the bank foreclosure registry ordinance, proposes that banks go on record that they own the home and that they have a maintenance company caring for the property. The bank would also pay a registry fee to the city and would be subject to fines for not keeping the property up to par, just like an average resident.
“Why shouldn’t [banks] be held to the same standards as the rest of our community when it comes to keeping properties safe, clean and secure at all times?” Roman said.
Councilman Daniel Liedtke disagreed with the proposal stating his concern about the banks passing these costs of maintenance to the homeowners. Roman received much public support on the ordinance and stated that if it helps even one home in the community, she would be satisfied.
“The question is: Is it worthwhile if it is one or 100 homes?” Roman said. “It think it is worthwhile if we address even one home.”
Much of the public in attendance was also eager to hear about Councilman Michael Fridovich’s ongoing effort to secure a mooring field in at the waterfront.
“We need a mooring field to keep our city beach and waterfront safe,” Gulfport resident Jean Proch said during the public comments.
“It would clean up the bay,” Fridovich said. Fridovich added that having a safe and legal place to park boats would deter those who choose to anchor watercraft wherever they like. “They pulled two boats last month off the beach because the anchors dragged and they ended up on the beach,” Fridovich continued.
The mooring field will provide parking for boats and allow easy access to town where people can spend money at local shops as well as get the necessary supplies for boating.
“It will bring income to the city, not necessarily from the mooring ball itself, but from the people shopping,” Fridovich said.
“Folks who live on the hook need basic services,” former marina owner Rick Flagan said. “If they can’t get them legally, they will get them illegally.”
Several options for the project were purposed during the meeting: Either fund it now, kill the idea, or put the project on hold once again until the marina project is complete.
The mooring field would cost nearly $300,000, which the council agreed to tentatively set aside for the 2016 budget, but has not made a final decision.
Several other matters were discussed Thursday including the possibility of a parking study for the waterfront. The Pinellas County Planning Commission estimated the study to cost about $5,000 while an estimate from Cardno, an infrastructure service company, exceeded $30,000.
Council agreed that it was not necessary to conduct a parking study on the waterfront, but suggested they should get a price estimate to conduct one on 54th and 58th streets.
Also on the agenda was a proposal to expand the Senior Center fitness room hours to include Saturdays. This would increase the cost of operations and Councilman Fridovich suggested raising membership fees for non-Gulfport residents to cover the additional costs. Council agreed to conduct a poll to see where the current Senor Center members stand on the issue.
Additionally, council would like to budget for a mobile stage to use at Gulfport city functions. The stage would cost about $118,000. Currently, to renting a stage for city events costs $1,200 per day. The city has over 70 events a year, but not all of them require a stage.