City commission faces another lengthy agenda


Based on the published agenda, Historic City News is prepared for what should be a lengthy meeting of the St. Augustine city commission Monday night, October 12th.

The session begins at 5:00 p.m. in the Alcazar Room at City Hall and will cover guidelines for Francis Field, proposals for the Bridge of Lions reopening as well as progress on King Street flood control, Riberia Street improvements, Aviles Street, water treatment expansion and a skateboard noise wall.

Managing Francis Field use

An event review committee, a certified crowd manager and noise control are among elements in 17-pages of “Francis Field Guidelines” to be presented to commissioners Monday night by Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson.

Nearly every city department has a role in regulation of events that could range from 500 to more than 25,000 participants, according to Williamson’s report.

Commissioners earlier this year put a hiatus on further event scheduling to give Williamson time to develop a management plan.

Calling Francis Field “one of the City of St. Augustine’s greatest community assets,” Williamson notes it requires a basic level of infrastructure services as “a valuable event site for a variety of local non-profit organizations, a recreation area for both school and after-school activities and a passive park for residents.”

Ideas for Bridge reopening

Twenty-seven pedestrians to be selected by drawing and designated “The 27 Club” in recognition of the 1927 opening of the Bridge of Lions will be first to cross the reopened span later this year under a proposal Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson will outline to commissioners Monday night.

“Brief remarks by officials, a ribbon cutting, and a procession led by a group of selected pedestrians, followed by antique vehicles representing the decades of the bridge’s service,” is the scenario Williamson will suggest.

He said the event will be managed by the City of St. Augustine in cooperation with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and contractor Skanska, with program development assistance from the Save Our Bridge organization.

After the ceremonies, the bridge may be opened for a brief period to the general public for pedestrian-only use, followed by a traffic switch from the temporary bridge, Williamson said.

FDOT planned the early reopening with a formal ceremony about 18 months later after the temporary span is removed.

Aviles Street “on-a-dime”

Paint and plants are major features in a proposal to resurrect Aviles Street “as a retail destination by increasing access and visibility with low-cost ‘design-on-a-dime’ techniques.

Chief Operations Officer John Regan will present a proposal to commissioners, worked out with “enthusiastic participation” of business and property owners from King to Cadiz Street.

A study by Halback & Associates includes a survey of Aviles Street businesses as well as case studies of streetscape design in other areas of the world.

Another step toward King Street flood control

In an effort to correct flooding on King Street between Malaga and US 1, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will ask commissioners to subordinate the city’s interest in lands along the south side of King Street for construction of new storm drains.

Public Works Director Martha Graham explains that, under the agreement, any necessary relocation of city utilities during the work would be at FDOT expense.

Tightening billboard control

“Billboards and signs along the roadways should maintain and enhance the appearance and aesthetic environment of the City, particularly within the historic districts and along entry corridors into the City.”

With that motivation, city staff will propose to the commission that there be additions made to the city signage code for greater regulation of roadside signage and to bring pre-existing, nonconforming signs under a uniform city code as well.

The ordinance would go to a public hearing at a later meeting, if approved.

Easing the cost of business start-ups

Leasing rather than up-front payment of water and sewer connections for businesses that create more than 100 new jobs would provide “long term benefits in assisting with economic development.”

The concept, to be presented to commissioners Monday night, has been developed with an eye toward the recently-formed strategic plan between the city, county and West Augustine.

Under the proposed ordinance, qualifying businesses would pay utility fees on flow-based usage for a designated term.

If advanced by commissioners, the ordinance will go to public hearing at a later meeting.

Plan funds sought for Riberia Street, water plant projects

Public Works Director Martha Graham will seek commission approval for $269,725 in Utility Fund reserves for the Riberia Street improvement project and expansion of the new reverse osmosis system for water treatment.

Graham says $164,925 would be used for additional plans to improve scoring on a Community Development Block Grant application for Riberia Street, while $104,800 would be used for necessary planning for the reverse osmosis expansion.

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