The community is invited to an “informal” gathering with staff from the city’s Public Works Department at 91 Coquina Avenue this Friday, October 11, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. Historic City News readers are encouraged to attend. In February the city commission agreed to divert $500,000 from reserves to acquire the property. The purchase never appeared on the capital improvement plan for Fiscal 2019.
The city will provide attendees an update on a project that promises to result in the creation of South Davis Shores’ first pocket park and a critical element in flood control infrastructure, when completed. City management has begun the “initial site work” by placing several loads of fill dirt on the property and removing some of the invasive vegetation. Guests can view the authentic pile of fill dirt that represents almost the sum of work that city officials have done since February.
Some readers have argued whether the development of a passive waterfront park constitutes an “important need” for the neighborhood. Others, including a professional engineer who is not City Manager John Regan, reject the notion that the Public Works Department can accomplish what the city is now describing as “the installation of high-tech infrastructure” that will serve to “alleviate frequent flooding caused by excessive tides”.
The city manager’s rose-colored dreams of great fortunes to be made from the sale of a small 1940’s cottage, sitting on the half-million-dollar pork project, quickly faded as he had to turn to giving the house away, waiving any city fees required, then paying the recipient $5,000 to assist with moving costs.
During the on-site gathering city staff, including Public Works Director Mike Cullum, will offer an update on the progress of the project including the status of the permits required from the St. Johns River Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection before much of the flood control work can begin.
The state Agricultural Museum, which is not in the City of St Augustine, rather on the Flagler-St Johns County line, agreed to accept the cottage giveaway, although they have been delayed because of Hurricane Dorian. According to a spokesperson with the museum, they are not yet prepared to relocate the cottage to their property, in fact they haven’t even begun work yet.
Residents in the South Davis Shores neighborhood may want to walk or ride bicycles if they plan to attend Friday’s “gathering” since parking in the area is limited. Perhaps the city manager, public works director, or any of the four commissioner who voted to fund this project should have considered adequate parking for a public park before they bought it.