St. Pete Beach Discusses Plan for Sea Level Rise

In a two-hour detailed planning session during their regular meeting on Wednesday, December 11, St. Pete Beach Commissioners were briefed on goals for the next 30 years related to sea level rise data.

“We are focusing on the next 30 years to 2050,” said City Manager Alex Rey. “While there are projections that go to the next 70-80 years, the accuracy diminishes. The 30-year window is more manageable and predictable.”

Public Works Director Mike Clark walked commissioners through statistics based on data provided by FEMA’s 100-year coastal floodplain report that is based on the percentage number of people at risk.

“St. Petersburg is listed as number six in the top 25 cities in the country most vulnerable to coastal flooding while Tampa is number 19,” said Clark. “For us to be near number six in the nation for a threat level and not too far away from number 19, we should probably be paying close attention, which is what we’re doing.”

Smaller coastal cities were not listed in the national data.

“If you were to put a number next to St. Pete Beach, it would be 100 percent of our population,” said Clark. In Pinellas County, “every barrier island is at 100 percent risk based on population.”

Clark’s report to the commissioners suggested a major recommendation for future planning documents regarding new building or remodeling is to allow for four feet above mean sea level to accommodate for two feet of sea level rise and two feet of storm surge during king tides by 2050.

“That’s a big number,” said Commissioner Ward Friszolowski. “Two to three feet is more manageable with regard to retaining walls and berms.”

Rey said, “It’s a good target to have between 3-4 feet for raising properties and sea walls over the next few decades. None of this has to happen tomorrow, but if we set up the right structure in the code, that is what people should be doing with their properties.”

Clark said what is next is to develop policy recommendations for private property regulation and public improvements; evaluate funding opportunities; and meet with each community within St. Pete Beach to discuss action plans based on scientific data provided by four architect and engineering firms that are working with the city. 

July 4 Fireworks Vendor Approved

At their regular meeting on Tuesday, December 10, commissioners approved a $25,788 contract with Pyrotecnico of New Castle, Pennsylvania for the municipal 4th-of-July fireworks display. The vendor also has a regional office in Tampa.

“Even though it’s early in the process, we are recommending this contract for fireworks,” said Rey. “The number of companies that do this kind of work is getting less and less every day. And, we need to secure our spot. These are the only people that are willing to enter into an agreement with us.”

The city plans to “pursue, like last year, sponsorships so we can do it from a barge,” said Rey. “That was very successful at a cost of $15,000 that was donated by the hotels.”

The contract for the 20 to 22 minute, high impact, water-based display will include a total of 1,443 shells ranging in size from 1.5 inches to 8 inches in a three-part show.

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