Work on the Keegan Clair Park is nearly complete. The city hopes to dedicate the park at itsre-opening in September.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – Indian Rocks Beach commissioners decided to begin the process of potentially making a claim against BP for damages caused by the oil spill in 2010.
At the commission meeting Aug. 14, the commissioners heard from Tampa attorney Christa Collins regarding making a claim against the oil company. Collins is aligned with a law firm in Louisiana and another in Connecticut, which have already been retained, by both St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island to move forward toward making a claim.
Collins explained to the commission that municipal claims have been separated from class action suits and can proceed on their own merit.
“We want to talk to the city to find out if a claim is possible,” she said. “Many businesses have suffered losses and it is reasonable to assume that municipalities have too.”
Collins noted that beach communities are in what is known as Zone A, which means that businesses making claims against BP don’t have to explain their losses. In other words if a business can show a drop in income that happened after the spill, then it is assumed the loss occurred because of the spill.
She said municipalities suffered because of the spill through a loss in taxes because of fewer visitors. “Declines in restaurant business, fees, lower occupancy rates,” she said. “And I hate to be crass but even the number of commode flushes can indicate a loss. Fewer visitors mean fewer flushes and if the city lost revenue because of a lower water usage than that is something you could claim.”
City Attorney Maura Kiefer recommended that the commission hire Collins to explore potential claims.
“This is of no cost to the city. I believe the city owes it to itself to have an analysis done,” she said. “It is risk-free; this is a true contingency contract.”
Kiefer said she reviewed their contract and found it to be without any loopholes that would end up costing the city.
“Even the time I spend reviewing the document will not be billed,” she said.
Vice Mayor Terry Hamilton-Wollin noted that another attorney, Rick Kriseman, had approached the city about making a claim against BP and she felt he should be heard, just as Collins was. The other commissioners agreed and he will be invited to speak at the next Commission meeting on Aug. 28. City Attorney Kiefer said she read his contract as well and would not recommend the city sign on with him. Kriseman represents the city of Gulfport in matters regarding claims against BP.
Keegan Clair docks to be dedicated
The new floating docks at the Keegan Clair Park are soon to be dedicated for a period of 20 years. When the city began the project it applied for and was given a grant of just over $99,000 from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. To receive the grant however the city had to agree that the park be dedicated as a Boating Access Facility for a minimum of 20 years.
City Manager Chuck Coward reported to the commission that the docks are finished, as is the shore stabilization park of the project. He said the improvements to the park itself are well under way as are new signs directing boaters to the downtown business district. He said the dedication and opening of the facility will take place sometime in September.
Taste of IRB gets approval
Every year in November the IRB Homeowners Association hosts The Taste of IRB in Chic-A-Si Park. Last year however, space was tighter than usual. The homeowners complained that the recent expansion to the museum took away some of their much needed space in the park. This year they asked the City Commission to close Second Street on the day of the event to give them more room.
Mayor R.B. Johnson was concerned with what that would mean in terms of safety for the area. Public Services Director Dean Scharmen said the only issue was a bus route.
“PSTA buses come down Second Street then turn onto First where their transfer point is,” he said. “But I think we can work with them and re-route the buses for that one day. There will be some tight turns but they can do it.”
That’s all the commissioners needed to hear and they unanimously approved the co-sponsoring of the event as well as the event itself. It will be held on Saturday, Nov. 3, 4 to 10 p.m.
Board appointments approved
Commissioners unanimously approved the re-appointment of Rick Alvarez and the appointment of Valerie Weisner to the Board of Adjustments and Appeals. Alvarez’s term had expired and he asked to be re-appointed. Weisner is a new member and will serve as the second alternate Board Member replacing David Phillips who had resigned.