Historic City News will be watching live Monday night as General Services Director Jim Piggott reports to city commissioners on last Tuesday’s community workshop at the Willie Galimore Center.
The workshop was chaired by City Manager John Regan with reportedly 50 residents, city and county officials in attendance.
Although the City of St. Augustine owns the Galimore pool and recreation areas of the Eddie Vickers facility, through an interlocal agreement with St. Johns County, what maintenance has been done since 2002, has been done by them.
That agreement expires next year and the county appears no longer interested in the Gallimore Center — the county built their own public swimming pool and they are responsible to maintain it. Regarding the county, Regan said, “The decision’s been made to run only the Solomon Calhoun Center.”
At issue for the city is the dilemma of how to fund $230,000 a year for pool operations.
Vice-Mayor Errol Jones has been a vocal critic of what he describes as the county’s poor maintenance of the property. In comments made at the last City Commission meeting, residents complained that some doors don’t have working locks, smoke detectors were not installed and working, and basic pool and building repairs have been neglected.
The county proposes to bring the pool into compliance and then turn it over to the city.
The city and county are discussing corporate sponsorships, redirected programming, user fees, and fundraising events.
The St. Augustine Report said this week that someone has even considered redirecting the controversial “half mil” ad valorem tax dropped by the airport to a “quality of life trust” for county recreation.
County officials said the county recreation budget totals $3 million, of which $700,000 goes to sports lighting alone, and user fees bring in only about $20,000.