REDINGTON SHORES - In the midst of a Town Commission meeting focused on recovery and cleanup efforts from the effects of Hurricane Irma, Redington Shores Mayor Bert Adams had some unsettling news for residents.
The town will not be a part of a beach nourishment scheduled for later this year, or for the years leading up to the next beach nourishment, possibly five years away.
The reason is that not enough residents signed property easement agreements required by Pinellas County’s alliance with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the beach nourishment project.
TREASURE ISLAND - City officials are still holding out hope the Federal Highway Administration will give them the thumbs-up to return tolls to the Treasure Island Causeway.
Commissioners would like to have the endorsement of the FHWA after Interim City Manager Amy Davis recently received an email from Cynthia Eisenmacher, the federal tolling program manager for the FHWA’s Center for Innovative Finance Support, listing five exceptions to a federal statute that restricts the city’s ability to toll Causeway Boulevard.
With that in mind, city leaders moved forward on a proposal by Thornton Williams of the Thornton Law Group to engage FHWA to determine if the city is able to qualify for any of the exceptions and return tolls to the causeway again.
REDINGTON BEACH - Commissioners are mulling a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Redington Beach, even though they agree there are few possible venues for such businesses to set foot.
Banning the stores would require a referendum, the commission was told during their regular meeting on Sept. 6.
During a scheduled discussion, Town Attorney Jay Daigneault noted that in light of recent state law regarding the location and allowable number of medical marijuana dispensaries, some Pinellas County communities were considering ordinances that would prohibit the shops from opening. Seminole has already instituted a ban, he said, while North Redington Beach is considering similar action.
INDIAN SHORES - Site preparation continues for a street beautification project on the Gulf side of Gulf Boulevard in Indian Shores.
AmeriscapeUSA is conducting demolition and site preparation on the Intracoastal side from south to north. The final portion of the project will involve redoing the medians.
Planting of trees, shrubs and flowers began last week, starting at the north end of Indian Shores. All of the preparation work will pay off as the planting and irrigation phase will move quickly from north to south on the Gulf side.
MADEIRA BEACH - In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma the city of Madeira Beach is working hard to clear streets and debris from roadsides. Cleanup is a work in progress with the expectation of debris pick up to continue well into next week.
“We are working hard with our partnership through FEMA to ensure debris is collected effectively and recorded accurately. We ask residents to be patient as we work diligently to clean up the community,” said Dave Marsicano, Public Works director
As of Thursday morning there were still a few places without power including city hall offices and John’s Pass Village. Traffic outages are being monitored by community policing officers at the intersections of 153rd Avenue and Gulf Boulevard, as well as Madeira Way and Gulf Boulevard. Please use caution in these areas.
REDINGTON SHORES - Some residents in Redington Shores are getting creative with rooftop structures, which offer expanded views and entertainment opportunities. But their safety and aesthetics are being questioned.
The town commission took up the issue at its Aug. 30 workshop meeting.
Mayor Bert Adams said, “I asked every commissioner to drive down to 180th and 182nd and look at what’s on the roof.”
Adams then told of a letter from former Commissioner Lee Holmes in which Holmes suggests the commission “establish a temporary moratorium to prohibit any building permits being issued for the purpose of building a structure on top of the roof of existing residential properties.” Holmes said he decided that action is needed after riding around his district and spotting the structure in question.
MADEIRA BEACH - Doug Andrews is no longer the city’s recreation director. Interim Madeira Beach City Manager Derryl O’Neal announced last week he has terminated Andrews.
A letter from O’Neal to Andrews informing him of his dismissal states, “I have lost confidence in your ability to provide overall organizational support and general direction for the Recreation Department,” O’Neal wrote. “Effective immediately, your employment is terminated for the city of Madeira Beach.”
O’Neal said his decision came after “a lot of smaller items that led up to a larger event.” He related some recent conversations with Andrews “where he showed no respect for authority at all.”
ST. PETE BEACH - Food trucks will no longer be able to randomly set up shop within the business district of St. Pete Beach.
City commissioners voted 3-2 to pass an ordinance on first reading Aug. 22 that regulates food trucks through the use of conditional use permits issued by the city. Commissioners Terri Finnerty and Rick Falkenstein, along with Mayor Al Johnson, voted for the measure while Ward Friszolowski and Melinda Pletcher voted against it.
The ordinance is modeled after a city of St. Petersburg ordinance and would go into effect following second reading, which will most likely take place Sept. 12.
MADEIRA BEACH - Following a long absence, the city of Madeira Beach has a new planning director. Linda Portal, of St. Petersburg, has accepted the job, Interim City Manager Derryl O’Neal announced at the Aug. 22 city commission meeting.
For the past 20 years, Portal was a planning and management consultant based in Gainesville and St. Petersburg. Portal’s résumé lists among her key proficiencies, experience and skills: land use and development, mixed use development, construction (contract) administration, urban planning credentials, management of complex budgets, government administration and regulatory experience, and familiarity with Tampa Bay demographics and housing market changes.
Her past positions include director of community development for the city of Gainesville, principal planner and program manager for the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, and Main Street program manager for the city of Tarpon Springs.
MADEIRA BEACH - Imagine if you will an adult putt-putt golf tournament, followed by an after-party at the Daiquiri Shak or a craft beer festival at John’s Pass Village that provides revenue to build a kids fishing pier.
These are among the innovations Madeira Beach Recreation Director Doug Andrews has come up with in the past three years to create an additional revenue stream for his department and expand operations.
Since joining the city staff in July 2014, Andrews has invented ways to increase Parks and Recreation revenue from $219,074 in fiscal 2015 to a projected $415,000 in fiscal 2017. The increase amounts to an 89 percent bump in funding, which has helped a lot to offset the additional expense of the city’s new recreation building. The new building is one of the major reasons expenditures have gone up about 24 percent since fiscal 2015.
ST. PETE BEACH - Lifetime St. Pete Beach resident Bruno Falkenstein is an addict. He has been for years and no amount of rehab is going to break him of his habit.
In fact, no one wants to because his habit, his addiction, is helping an endangered species thrive and survive.
Falkenstein, 70, has been protecting sea turtle nests for years. His love for turtles began in the late 1970s when he was walking along the beach one day.
“My interest was brought alive in 1979 when I found a dead turtle on the beach,” he said. “Later that same year I got involved in finding a nest and I got talking to some people from Natural Resources and that started my desire to help sea turtles.”
REDINGTON BEACH - Discussions ranged widely at the Aug. 16 Redington Beach Commission meeting, from salary caps to staff raises to the need for a more active finance committee and the possible effect of a proposed state constitutional amendment.
But all of the conversations were focused on the only item actually on the agenda: the coming year’s town budget and millage rate.
Commissioners had only two obligations during the meeting, Mayor Nick Simons said early in the evening - to agree on a budget and reach a consensus on a tentative millage rate. That eventually happened, but not before the panel plowed a metaphorical field of affiliated issues.
MADEIRA BEACH - Former Madeira Beach mayor and civic leader Hugh C. Lamont died at home on Aug. 11, 2017. He was 81.
A native of Glasgow, Scotland, he served in Special Air Service Regiment of the Royal Air Force in Jordon, Iraq and Cyprus. He emigrated to Atlanta in 1958 where he owned and operated a textile dye works and carpet cleaning business.
He was a resident of Madeira Beach for 40 years and a civic activist for three decades. In the early 1980s, he worked with the Florida Legislature to establish a “Slow Down-Minimum Wake” zone at John’s Pass and a subsequent ordinance was passed at the city level to protect boaters and sea life.
MADEIRA BEACH - John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk seeks food, retail, craft and charity or public information vendors for the 36th Annual John’s Pass Seafood Festival held on the last weekend of October annually.
This year’s festival dates are Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 26-29.
For 35 years, the John’s Pass Seafood Festival has featured non-stop musical performances from some of the best bands, hundreds of craft vendors, hundreds of local businesses, amazing seafood and has always been free to the public.
INDIAN SHORES - A final site plan review request was unanimously approved to construct a single-family home with two floors over parking at the Aug. 8 Indian Shores Town Council meeting.
At the meeting, Freddy Socias represented Alvarez New Concepts of Tampa, a custom home builder that is the contractor for the project at 20230 Gulf Blvd. Socias presented a rendering of the residence at both the Town Council and Planning, Zoning and Building Committee meetings.
The property owners are Shylendra and Madhu Kumar.
ST. PETE BEACH - After a few tweaks, St. Pete Beach commissioners voted unanimously Aug. 8 to pass a revised ordinance on first reading that allows the consumption of alcoholic beverages in cabana areas on the beach.
A second and final reading is anticipated Aug. 22.
The ordinance would revise Chapter 6 of the city code to allow public consumption of alcohol on the beach in conjunction with a hotel. It would be allowable only in a hotel cabana area and no closer than 50 feet from the “wet sand.” Also, those enjoying a drink would be required to wear wristbands to identify themselves as hotel guests.