School calls emergency Board of Trustees meeting

After neighbors in Nelmar Terrace and Fullerwood Park descended on city commissioners during their Monday night meeting, accusing the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind of being heavy handed in working towards a mediated settlement of their differences, there has been a swift response.

The state school announced to Historic City News yesterday that they are calling an “emergency meeting” of their governing body — not to discuss pending legislation that could circumvent the mediation or a resolution unanimously adopted by the commission objecting its adoption, but to “discuss matters pertaining to the security of the unnamed alley alongside the President’s House located at 27 Milton Street and the Collins House located on Nelmar Street.”

The meeting is open to Historic City News readers and the public.

This meeting will be convened Friday, January 27, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind, located at 207 North San Marco Avenue in Saint Augustine in Moore Hall, Center for Learning Development Room #126.

The public alley, which has existed for over 100 years, is something the school wants to control. It appears, to legal observers, to be the only thing the City of St Augustine can still control; given its limited power to enforce building codes and force compliance to city ordinances and the municipality’s inability to fine or levy against state-owned property controlled by the school — which is a state agency.

Residents in Monday night’s meeting made clear their opinion that Florida School for the Deaf and Blind is not a “friendly dictator” — they have the advantage of state autonomy from municipal control and are on track to get the power of eminent domain.

The commission rejected an attempt at resolution of planning and zoning code violations, or to take up the issue of the alleyway, until further negotiation with the school’s representatives brings the parties closer together.

City officials said that they expect the school to demonstrate a spirit of cooperation; and, because of their integration into the two heavily residential historic districts, to recognize the right of the City to regulate planning and zoning issues regarding construction and use of buildings on school property.

Christopher Wagner serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
District: Bradenton (Manatee County)
Mr. Wagner is the Senior Vice President of Business Operations for CSDVRS, LLC, a video relay service provider. Deaf since birth, Mr. Wagner attended Tucker-Maxon Oral School for the Deaf in Portland, Oregon, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Buffalo, New York. He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. The Governor appointed him to the Board for a term ending November 19, 2012.

Owen B. McCaul serves as Vice-Chairman.
District: Tallahassee (Leon County)
Mr. McCaul is an assistant state attorney in Leon County. He is currently the Chief of the Leon County Felony Intake Division. He also represents the State in Felony Drug Court, a pre-trial diversion program which offers treatment to those with substance abuse problems. The Governor appointed Mr. McCaul to the board for a term beginning August 29, 2006. His current term ends December 10, 2012.

Photo credits: © 2012 Historic City News staff photographer

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