DUNEDIN - U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, a longtime proponent of veterans’ rights and causes, recently spoke at a special ceremony at the Dunedin VFW Post 2550 honoring World War II and Korean War vets.
The Aug. 29 event saw dozens of veterans from every service branch, as well as city officials including Dunedin Commissioner Deborah Kynes, pack the Douglas Avenue facility to listen to the four-term Congressman, who began his speech by telling the audience how much their service means to him.
“I want you to know that you are my top priority in the United States Congress,” Bilirakis, who was first elected in 2006 and serves as the vice chairman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said. “You are our top priority. You are our heroes. Not our athletes, certainly not our movie stars, and most certainly not our politicians. You are the guys and gals that got it done for our country. We’re here to serve you, and please don’t hesitate to contact our office.”
DUNEDIN -City Manager Jennifer Bramley was sworn into office Sept. 21, and city of Dunedin commissioners praised Interim City Manager Doug Hutchens for his integrity and service to city government.
Bramley, a former Coral Springs administrator who commissioners selected in June to be city manager, “got indoctrinated by fire,” having being involved in visioning sessions during her first week in office and then serving while Hurricane Irma struck the area, Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski said.
DUNEDIN - After months of deliberations and public outcry against adding such a massive structure in downtown Dunedin, the latest iteration of the Courtyard on Main project received unanimous approval from the City Commission on first reading last week.
The project has been a source of controversy and consternation in the community for much of this year as local developer Arlis Construction worked to build a three-story mixed-use complex, complete with ground floor retail space, an underground parking garage and 18 condo units, on a vacant lot at 380 Main St. that is currently used for public parking.
However, after several significant revisions were presented to the Local Planning Authority last month, including reducing the overall building size by 20 percent and creating an outdoor plaza on the corner of Main Street and Douglas Avenue that will be dedicated for public use, the five city commissioners, as well as a representative of a key community group, expressed support for the project when the first reading of the agenda item was heard on Thursday, Sept. 21.
DUNEDIN - New mixed-use projects and other developments are creating a buzz in the community. But as these new buildings take shape, aesthetics has been part of the conversation too, giving rise to public art, such as decorative bike racks and statues.
Now a bus shelter is getting similar love.
Through the Give Me Shelter Humanity at Work project, a PSTA bus stop on Main Street across the street from the Serendipity Café will become an art stop. The installation is slated for December.
DUNEDIN - For those spectators who feel city of Dunedin officials’ negotiations with the Toronto Blue Jays are going into extra innings, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.
However, based on city commissioners’ discussions at a work session Sept. 18, they are getting close to finalizing a licensing agreement intended to allow the Blue Jays to train and play baseball in Dunedin for another 25 years.
Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski hopes to have a workshop in late October for commissioners to go over the proposed agreement that stems from Jays officials who said more than a year ago that they prefer to keep their spring training operations in Dunedin. Extensive improvements to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and training facilities are envisioned.
DUNEDIN - The third time was the charm for a downtown Dunedin development project that had been rejected twice after residents and city officials expressed concerns over its size, scope and density.
Plans for the Courtyard on Main, a mixed-use development featuring residential, retail, restaurant and 49 underground parking spaces, were thwarted by the City Commission earlier this year after the developer, Arlis Construction, received complaints about everything from the height of the structure and its proximity to the street to the colors and architectural style of the three-story building.
DUNEDIN - If only a parking pay station had ears and could talk. No telling what government officials could glean from the remarks people make at the stations as they learn how to use the devices.
Pay stations, fees and other issues pertaining to the city’s pilot parking program continue to create discussion as city officials move closer toward making a decision on whether they want to maintain or scrap the program.
At a City Commission meeting Aug. 10, Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski asked that city officials organize a listening session with the public, possibly in October, before commissioners consider in November the fate of the controversial program.
DUNEDIN - Dignitaries and staff at the Dunedin History Museum July 31 raised their golden shovels to dig into a mound of dirt to celebrate the expansion of the Dunedin History Museum. The groundbreaking ceremony symbolized the beginning of a $600,000 expansion project for the museum, which will include a new entranceway facing the Main Street corridor of downtown Dunedin, a new expanded gift shop and all new and interactive exhibit galleries related to the history of Dunedin.
DUNEDIN - The Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee named Dunedin Fire Department firefighter Justin Ascherman the recipient of its 2017 First Responder Award.
The award was created this year to recognize a Pinellas County firefighter/paramedic for their unselfish service to the community. The award was presented at the PCREC Summer Sizzler BBQ held at the Dunedin Country Club.
Ascherman has been a firefighter with the city for the past 10 years and during that time he has become a driver/engineer for both the engine and truck companies. Having spent many years boating in the area and obtaining his marine captain’s license, he was credited as being one of the first boat operators for the newly acquired Dunedin Fire/EMS/Rescue boat and has trained multiple people to become boat operators as well.
DUNEDIN - At the end of the month city officials will get views from residents on certain main corridors in their community - the good, the bad and the ugly.
And that’s what city commissioners want.
The city will hold visioning workshops Aug. 27-31 at the Hale Center, 330 Douglas Ave.
The sessions, hosted by Jacobs Planning Group, are open to the public and residents are encouraged to participate.
The sessions start with a meet and greet gathering Sunday, Aug. 27, at 2 p.m. followed by a preference overview. Included over the ensuing few days through Thursday, Aug. 31, will be small group discussions, questions and answers with consultants, map exercises, analyses of strengths and weaknesses and more preference surveys focusing on downtown, the State Road 580 corridor and Patricia Avenue corridor.
DUNEDIN - In recent years, opinions about new development in the community have flowed as freely as the beer in the city’s many downtown haunts.
From multimillion-dollar mixed-use projects to new breweries and enhanced streetscaping, growth has bolstered tax coffers and increased downtown activity, but it also has posed challenges for city officials - such as how to preserve downtown’s ambiance and ensure that adequate parking areas are available to residents and visitors.
Discussions continue on development issues, such as architectural standards.
Ennis, William “Bill” E., age 89 of Dunedin, FL., passed June 20, 2017 while under Hospice Care.
A WWII Veteran and former homebuilder from Danvers Massachusetts, Bill and family moved to Dunedin in 1957. He was an enduring resident in the Dunedin Isles brick road neighborhood.
He’s joined his wife Jacqueline, predeceased, on what would have been their 64th wedding anniversary. Throughout the mid 1970’s and 1980’s, he was an active member of his Dunedin community, performing various volunteer work. At the Dunedin Marina, he restored non-seaworthy sailing pram vessels that were put back into commission for the children’s sailing program and Windlasses sailing group.
DUNEDIN - As a star infielder for Lakewood High, Bo Bichette played at Spectrum Field and Florida Auto Exchange Stadium against rivals like Largo and Dunedin high schools, and he still has fond memories of those games.
In fact, they’re still fresh in his mind, as the 19-year-old is just one year removed from his playing days with the Spartans.
Today Bichette, the 2016 Gatorade and USA Today Florida Player of the Year, is playing in those ballparks as one of the hottest prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system. The son of former Major Leaguer Dante Bichette was selected in the second round of the 2016 Major League Baseball draft, number 66 overall. After a solid season in the rookie league last fall and a spectacular start in low Single-A ball this year, where he hit .384 with 10 homers and 51 RBI in 70 games, the Orlando native was recently promoted to high Single-A Dunedin in the Florida State League.
DUNEDIN - The city’s tax rate remains at 4.13 mills under the proposed $166.4 million city budget as increased property values bring in more revenue.
Interim City Manager Doug Hutchens said in the executive summary of the budget that the growth in the city’s taxable value, 9.71 percent, and that of the community redevelopment district, 25.8 percent, exceeded rates seen in most other municipalities as well as the county as a whole.
Hutchens said there are many factors on the horizon that will have a lasting impact on the city and its financial future. The most significant event will be the appointment of a new city manager this summer.