Councilor Mike Petruccelli

Councilor Mike Petruccelli receives certificate from Mayor Pat Soranno at the Jan. 8, 2019 town hall meeting for his participation and completion of the Institute of Elected Officials IV Municipal Leadership program.

INDIAN SHORES — Canceling the municipal election originally scheduled for this spring was easy, but deciding which concept to approve for the town monument proved to be more problematic.

Members of the Town Council were completely unified on canceling the election, but disparate when it came to their taste in art at the Jan. 8 meeting.

The council unanimously passed a resolution declaring Diantha Schear and William Smith re-elected to the Town Council for another three-year term, respectively. The resolution was a result of both candidates being unopposed, making the municipal election unnecessary. The municipal election scheduled for March 12 was officially canceled.

Mayor Pat Soranno congratulated both Schear and Smith on being re-elected. Schear addressed the residents in attendance.

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve again,” said Schear about the start of her second term in office.

“Me too,” added Smith who served his first year on the council in 2001.

The mayor recognized Smith for having served as a councilor for 18 years. Town clerk Freddie Lozano announced that the swearing in of both Schear and Smith will take place March 26.

Debating a town monument

Mark Aeling of MGA Sculpture Studios, LLC gave a slide presentation of the two concepts for discussion and consideration for selection as the town monument. “The Guardian” is an interpretation of the Native American’s face and character from the town’s logo done as a 30-foot bronze bust. The second choice is the “Reclining Whelk,” a stainless steel rendition of a shell that was dominant in the indigenous Tocabaga tribe’s culture.

The Indian Shores Art Committee voted 4-3 in favor of “The Guardian.” Since the committee didn’t have a decisive vote, they asked the Town Council to consider both concepts.

The voting by the Town Council did not fare much better. The first round of voting with “The Guardian” as the concept resulted in 3-2 against it. Councilors Mike Hackerson and Bill Smith (chairman of the art council on this project) voted in favor of “The Guardian” while Mayor Soranno, Vice Mayor Diantha Schear and Councilor Mike Petruccelli voted against it.

Concerns over the height and effects of high winds were deciding factors in the rejection of “The Guardian.” However, Aeling explained that structural engineers would ensure the integrity of whatever statue was selected before construction would begin. The monument would be built to withstand category 4 hurricane winds and the town could reduce the height — if they wanted — as plans proceed. “The Guardian” was inspired by a sculpture in Cuba that Town Clerk Freddie Lozano was able to access by computer and post on the projection screen for all in attendance to see.

The mayor polled the audience regarding their preference, and the residents opted for “The Guardian” by 14-7 or a margin of two to one. The mayor’s wife came to the podium twice during public input to express her preference for “The Guardian.”

Nonetheless, when the council voted again, “Reclining Whelk” was selected by a vote of 4-1 with Councilor Hackerson in opposition.

“Art is subjective,” said the mayor. The project costs $600,000 and is expected to be funded by Penny for Pinellas.

Petruccelli receives recognition from Florida League of Cities University

A letter from Lynn S. Tipton, director of the Florida League of Cities University, commended Petruccelli’s participation and completion of the Institute of Elected Officials IV Municipal Leadership program in November was received by the town.

Soranno presented a certificate acknowledging Petruccelli’s accomplishment during the meeting.

“This is equivalent to a Ph.D. in municipal government,” said Soranno.

Turtle ordinance passed on its second reading

The sea turtle protection ordinance passed on its second and final reading. The vote of 4-1 was the same as it was on its first reading with Petruccelli voting against. In addressing lighting and obstruction on the beach that interferes with sea turtle nesting, the ordinance updates an existing ordinance already in the code. Another ordinance that addresses “leave no trace” referenced in the turtle ordinance has yet to be approved.