REDINGTON SHORES — The town has canceled its fireworks show this year, citing multiple problems with the July 4th display in recent years. The unanimous decision, made by the town commission at its March 9 meeting, cancels what one commissioner called the town’s “claim to fame” event.

“It went so bad last year, and put so much pressure on the police department, the fire department and the town,” Commissioner Michael Robinson said.

Police Chief Richard Swann spoke of the past difficulties with the fireworks.

“Last year, I had to convince (the vendor) to quit crying after his staff walked out on him. If we hadn’t had some volunteers that learned how to put together fireworks really quickly, there wouldn’t have been a show,” Swann said.

“It’s beautiful when it works, but when it doesn’t, it creates a whole new set of problems, and we were very, very fortunate we pulled it off last year.”

There have been numerous difficulties with the fireworks display over the past few years. The show almost didn’t happen in 2021 because of the workers walking off the job. In 2020 the display was canceled due to COVID, and the year before that the fireworks were misdirected and never showed up.

When it came time to vote on approving a contract for fireworks in 2022, Commissioner Cinda Krouk said, “I would like to take a hiatus and just see how it goes without us,” though she acknowledged the fireworks display “was always our claim to fame,” viewed by thousands.

“There will still be illegal fireworks set up by residents for people to see,” Krouk said.

Swann said canceling the fireworks display this year “will be one less headache that everybody will have to deal with.”

The contract for 2022 fireworks, costing $17,500, was unanimously rejected in a 5-0 vote.

Administrator gets contract

A three-year contract with Jeff Shoobridge of Silver Lake, Minnesota to serve as town administrator was approved at the meeting. Shoobridge was chosen by the commission for the new position on Feb. 24.

Mayor MaryBeth Henderson and Town Attorney Rob Eschenfelder had met with Shoobridge to negotiate the employment agreement. It calls for him to be paid an annual salary of $118,000 and have three weeks’ vacation starting this year. His starting date will be April 18.

The agreement also requires Shoobridge to live in Pinellas County, which could turn out to be a significant issue.

Shoobridge, who was not present at the commission meeting, had told Henderson he has so far been unsuccessful in finding an affordable place to live in the area, after coming from Minnesota into Florida’s super-hot housing market. His requirements include a first-floor bedroom for his elderly father. He did say there were some properties just inside Manatee County that satisfied his needs, but he was continuing to focus his home search in Pinellas County.

Robinson said he did not want to change the requirement that the town administrator live in Pinellas County.

“I have an issue with him living across the Skyway Bridge,” which closes in bad weather conditions, Robinson said. “I don’t want him stuck over the Skyway Bridge in an emergency situation.” He also said he wanted the administrator developing relationships with officials in Pinellas County and other local communities.

The commission agreed not to change the Pinellas County residency requirement, though Commissioner Jennie Blackburn, a local Realtor, warned that in Shoobridge’s case, “I’m afraid that we’re setting him up for failure.”

The idea of offering Shoobridge a housing allowance or additional compensation was discussed, but the commission decided not to do it now, on the advice of Eschenfelder.

“He signed the contract,” Eschenfelder said, adding that Shoobridge could come back to the commission later to seek an adjustment if necessary.

Shoobridge’s city administrator job in Minnesota is being advertised at $80,000.

The vote to approve the employment contract with Shoobridge was 5 to 0. 

Rental of ‘amenities’ prohibited

On the advice of the town attorney, the commission passed an ordinance on first reading that prohibits homeowners from renting out portions of their house, such as pools, driveways or sheds.

Eschenfelder said the rental of what he called “residential amenities” is “the latest phenomenon where people can rent out chunks of their home.” There are websites, he said, where someone can rent a pool only, invite a number of friends, bring lots of alcohol and have a blowout pool party until 2 a.m. The homeowner charges several hundred dollars, and the neighbors get a noisy party.

This is already happening in Redington Shores and other local communities, the attorney said.

Henderson thanked the attorney for bringing the matter to the commission’s attention.

“It’s so important to get on top of this, before it gets out of hand,” Henderson said.

Several years ago, the town passed an ordinance directed at controlling noisy short-term rental properties by limiting the number of occupants along with other restrictions.

The commission passed the “residential amenities” rental prohibition ordinance in a 5 to 0 vote. A second reading and public hearing will be scheduled soon to finalize the action. The code applies to single family homes only. Condos are not included.