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Consultant plans design workshops
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ST. PETE BEACH – City commissioners voted unanimously April 8 to approve spending $22,279 for a pair of community workshops in Pass-A-Grille for input regarding design and development standards.

The workshops will be the first step toward setting guidelines to protect the architectural and historic heritage of the community.

The workshops will be conducted by Tampa-based Tindale-Oliver and Associates. Tentative dates are May 7 and May 21 at a site to be determined.

The workshops will be under the direction of Ginger Corless, a certified planner for Tindale-Oliver who has a lengthy background in such projects.

“Last year and earlier this year the commission decided to put aside some money to bring in some outside professional assistance in this area,” said St. Pete Beach City Manager Mike Bonfield. “I look at this as a first step to try to work with the community to really define and hone in what specifically what we’re trying to accomplish with this exercise.”

Bonfield said the focus would be on the structures, preserving old buildings and how new structures will be built.

Corless said she would like to develop an action plan that would start with a walk-through of the community later this month by herself and city leaders.

“Then we go to public forums where we would find out what people like and don’t like and build momentum very quickly,” Corless said. “And then in the second meeting, we’ll come back and explain what we heard (and ask) if we were correct.”

From those two meetings, Corless hopes to develop some steps and recommendations.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am for this item to be on our agenda,” said Commissioner Melinda Pletcher, who represents Pass-A-Grille. “Thank you so much.”

Pletcher said she initially questioned the $22,279 cost for a pair of meetings before she read further.

“That’s when I discovered it includes 187 hours of principal project planners, designers, graphic designers and integrating with our city staff, the historical board and most importantly the people of Pass-A-Grille,” Pletcher said. “We have a tremendous group of people who really care about where Pass-A-Grille is going.”

Commissioner Greg Premer agreed.

“I too balked at that $22,000 figure when I first looked at it,” he said. “But hats off to the city staff for finding someone of these qualifications to do something like this that’s so important to the city. I’m all for it.”

Commissioner Terri Finnerty also agreed it was money well spent.

“When I heard the project description, I realized it’s not a one-hour or two-hour deal,” Finnerty said.

“This is a nice step,” said Mayor Maria Lowe. “Spending $22,000 in my opinion is pennies compared to what we just invested for a small area study (of Corey Avenue).”

She added that the city needs a better comprehensive plan that includes all areas of the city. She said Pass-A-Grille wasn’t part of the current comprehensive plan.

“I could not be more disappointed than when I entered the historic board and recognized the comprehensive plan did not include a whole section of our city,” Lowe said. “It’s not comprehensive if it’s not the whole city.”

In other action, commissioners:

• Approved entering into an agreement with organizers of the Walgreen’s St. Pete Beach Classic road race events to allocate $12,000 for law enforcement and other services related to managing the racecourse. The races will be held Jan. 16-18, 2015.

• Named Pletcher vice mayor.

• Named Pletcher the city’s representative on the Pinellas County Flood Insurance Coalition.

• Named Lowe the city’s rep on the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.

• Voted to allocate $25,000 to Pyrotecnico for Fourth of July fireworks and directed city staff to try to locate a barge for launching the fireworks, as opposed to launching them from Upham Beach.

• Approved $13,315 to Rowland Inc., to install reclaimed water taps to three landscape medians on Blind Pass Road.

• Approved spending $32,224 with Duke Energy for upgraded electrical lines at Lift Station 12. The original cost of the project was just over $47,000 but the city was able to negotiate the price down $15,000 by agreeing to trench and install the power line conduit. The expense is considered an emergency repair because Lift Station 12 is currently on bypass pumping.

• Approved a 1-year contract extension with Ashbritt Inc., for disaster debris removal following a hurricane.
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