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Town Hall auditorium like a ‘sauna’
Belleair commission eyes renovations to building because of AC problems
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The auditorium at the Belleair Town Hall which might soon be petitioned off to save on air conditioning costs.
BELLEAIR – On and off for weeks it has been warm and stuffy in the main auditorium of the Belleair Town Hall. Town Manager Micah Maxwell thinks he has the answer to the problem. Cut the auditorium in half or at least wall it off across the middle.

Maxwell revealed the cause of the problem at the town commission meeting on Aug. 5. The air conditioner was broken and would take thousands of dollars to repair.

“It can’t be fixed,” he said. “Well, it can’t be fixed to anybody’s satisfaction. We can spend $800 this week to get it running and when it breaks down next week we’ll have to spend another $800. It needs to be replaced.”

That is where the thousands of dollars comes in, and even then Maxwell wasn’t satisfied with the result.

“To replace the air conditioner will cost $33,000. That’s for an over-sized unit, which I really don’t think we need,” he said. “A smaller one will do the job, but this room isn’t conducive to proper cooling.”

Thus the idea of splitting the room in half; Maxwell proposed to build a wall across the middle of the room and lower the ceiling about 4 feet which would make it easier and more efficient to keep cool.

“Right now the room can hold 250 people,” he said. “Under the new plan it will hold roughly 100 people. We can use the rest of the space for offices which we badly need.”

Maxwell admitted the renovation would probably cost every bit of the $33,000 it would have cost to replace the air conditioner but he said it was more efficient to do the renovation and purchase smaller air conditioning units to keep everything cool.

Mayor Gary Katica was the first to agree to Maxwell’s proposal.

“The conditions in here are like a sauna,” he said.

“Something has to be done.”

Commissioner Stephen Fowler, an architect, who has been voluntarily helping Maxwell plan the renovation, cautioned the Commission to make sure they get quotes for the new air conditioning units.

“Every company has good, better and best,” he said. “We should get quotes on all three to make sure we get the right units for the job.”

Maxwell said the renovation will make the audio system more efficient and video presentations more appealing to the audience. As well he said it is also time to replace the roof on the building. The current roof was installed in 1996. Because the air conditioning units are installed on the roof, Maxwell said it would be a good time to replace it at the same time.

When asked how long it will take to make this all happen, Maxwell said he hoped not long.

“I’m hoping it can happen sooner than later,” he said. “The bidding process will take some time but we want to get started on it quickly.”

Maxwell said he’ll have more definitive news on the project at the next commission meeting in two weeks.

This fall there promises to be several commission meetings dealing with the demolition of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel, which will no doubt draw crowds. Maxwell commented after the meeting if the renovation is not done before then, the Commission meeting can be moved to another location, possibly the gym in the Community Center.

Roundabout work scheduled

Work on the new roundabout at Indian Rocks Road and Ponce De Leon Boulevard should begin soon. Maxwell told the commission that the underground work is nearly complete and once that is done Indian Rocks Road will be closed for the construction. He said that will happen either on Labor Day weekend or the day after Labor Day. The job should then take two months to complete.

The delay in construction happened because underground pipes and utilities were closer to the surface than originally thought and they had to be buried deeper. Mayor Katica said that was to be expected.

“When you open a hole in a town that is 90 years old you don’t know what you will find,” he said.

Comprehensive annual financial report presented

The town’s annual financial report for 2013 was presented to the Commission. The report, or CAFR as it is known, is an accounting of all transactions and dealings carried out by the town in the 2013 fiscal year. It is also a statement that the books have been audited and found to be in order.

Notable financial occurrences in 2013 in Belleair included the bequest of $3.4 million from the estate of longtime resident John Osbourne and the town’s purchase of the Belleview Biltmore Golf Club. That was a $3.5 million transaction.
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