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Add your voice for the future of transportation in Pinellas

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Graphic courtesy Forward Pinellas(Screenshot/Duncan Kovar)

It’s time again to give your opinion to Forward Pinellas, our consolidated planning board responsible for both land use and transportation. The 25-year look-ahead transportation plan, named Advantage Pinellas, will eventually spell out preferred methods and locations- prioritizing between transit, roads, bike & pedestrian access.

Give your opinion to Forward Pinellas, our consolidated planning board responsible for both land use and transportation. The 25-year look-ahead transportation plan, named “Advantage Pinellas,” will eventually spell out preferred methods and locations- prioritizing between transit, roads, bike & pedestrian access. Take just 5-10 minutes and give your opinion.

Long range plans become mid-range projects, then short term schedules. Items not spelled out years in advance run the risk of someday not receiving federal or state funding grants. Getting today’s long-range plan correct is not just an exercise. And your opinion matters.

Take the survey

Click on advantagepinellas.metroquest.com and tell them your priorities. At the end, view how your neighbor’s replied. Forward the survey link to other Safety Harbor residents. Invite your neighbor who doesn’t get online – but may use and need public transportation – over to take it, too. This will give the planning department the widest citizen feedback possible.

Remember: 25 years in the future a new generation of residents will need new solutions to new transportation problems. Will we even be here? Take the survey- its only 5-10 minutes of your time. When you do, be thinking about the future of Safety Harbor and Pinellas County.

The survey will be open through the month of July.

Commission Notes: June 17, 2019

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Safety Harbor City Hall (Photo/Kathryn Malaxos)

Tree ordinance presentation

Tanja Vidovic presented a proposal to strengthen Safety Harbor’s tree ordinance (see excerpt from email sent to Commission). Residents shared support for this idea, including: Carol MacNamee, who noted that the 2015 ordinance set a minimum standard and that Safety Harbor currently has just one class of “protected” tree, whereas other municipalities have more categories of protected trees; Cherie Moscardini who shared a situation wherein a tree was killed, apparently through extensive cutback, without any penalty; Heather Richardson who noted that “trees are even more important than ever, especially with our climate change issues.” Commissioner Zodrow reflected that the 2015 ordinance was a compromise that “needs to be beefed up.” He expressed the need for citizen involvement to insure a stronger ordinance. City Manager Matt Spoor noted that the Commission made changes to the 2015 ordinance, including the addition of fines, in 2016 and 2018. Commissioner Cliff Merz, noting the importance of the ordinance, suggested the city include it with updates made over time on the city website.

Additional public comment

Scott Long shared information about Watermelon Week and Melons for Moolah, a July 6 fundraiser for the Safety Harbor Public Library Foundation’s 20/20 Vision Campaign.

Joanne Fisher thanked the city for the support given to her family and Brady’s BBQ and for remembering Brady with planned artwork.

Recognition of Retiree Leonard DeGroat

Leonard DeGroat was recognized upon his retirement after 37 years of service to the city.

Consent Agenda

Consent Agenda items (approval of June 3 minutes, approval of a purchase order to Kamminga and Roodvoets for MLK/Powhatan sewer line replacement project, awarding of contract to Augustine Construction for Main Street intersection brick repair, award for purchase of brick from Oldcastle for brick street repair) approved, 5-0.

Ready for 100

Supporters of the City’s Ready for 100 Resolution, identified by yellow stickers on their shirts, packed City Hall. Public comment on the Resolution was overwhelmingly positive.

Brian Beckman of the Suncoast Sierra Club, who initially presented Ready for 100 to the Commission on May 20, answered questions regarding transportation issues, potential grants available, status of other local municipalities’ plans, and goal dates for the cities and communities. Commissioner Zodrow suggested addition of a clause pertaining to environmental justice in order to provide support for lower income households’ and marginalized communities’ participation in the Ready for 100 initiative.

After discussion, the Commission passed the Ready for 100 Resolution without addition of the environmental justice language but with addition of a 2050 goal date.


Asked if other cities include environmental justice in their plans, Brian Beckman said cities are encouraged to do so and shared Dunedin’s Resolution language that encompasses environmental justice: “The City of Dunedin, in pursuit of these targets, will seek to build inclusive community leadership, policy engagement, and provide regional leadership to address equity in climate and energy.”


New business

The Commission denied (5-0) request for a waiver to the land development code (Article VI Community Redevelopment District, Section 100.00 Waivers) due to technical impracticality, one of the allowable reasons for granting a waiver. The request was to increase lot coverage from 35% to 41% on a 5000 square foot lot. Residents presented a petition and spoke in opposition to the waiver.

The Commission approved 5-0, on first reading, change in land use and rezoning for an addition to Folly Farms at 1538 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

The Commission approved 5-0, on first reading, change in land use and rezoning for expansion of the Public Works compound east of 2157 Railroad Ave.

Mary Lynda Williams

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(Photo/Jarine Dotson)

At Monday night’s City Commission meeting, Commissioner Nancy Besore expressed her sorrow on the passing of former city commissioner Mary Lynda Williams, who served on the Commission from 2008 to 2012. Later, Besore shared that Ms. Williams loved serving on the Commission. Besore reflected, “Mary Lynda was very kind and encouraging to me. She taught me skills in canvassing neighborhoods in 2009, my first encounter with running for office. She was a wonderful friend to Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center. She served as liaison between the Center and the Commission during her service. She loved parades, our tree lighting, the Mayor’s Breakfast…” Besore participated in the Florida League of Cities training for Public Officials on Ms. Williams’ recommendation– another example of Williams being a mentor and role model. “It was,” Besore said, “a joy serving with her.”

Mary Lynda Williams and I had the opportunity to work together for several years when we were both Commissioners. I always admired her independent voice and desire to make decisions that were best for Safety Harbor. She was a true public servant and will be missed.

Joe Ayoub, Mayor of Safety Harbor

Janet Hooper, Executive Director of Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center and a former city commissioner, recalled Ms. Williams as “always thoughtful, kind-hearted. Always tried to do the right thing, the best thing.” Ms. Williams was a commissioner when Hooper began working at Mattie Williams and Ms. Williams was instrumental in having a community walk for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Hooper said that Ms. Williams “believed in the importance of recognizing the diversity of our community.” Hooper recalled that when she joined the Commission, Ms. Williams set an example through her dedication to her responsibilities. On being a Commissioner, Ms. Williams advised, “You show up–– you care about things going on in the community.”

By all accounts, that is exactly what Mary Lynda Williams did. Hooper said Ms. Williams attended every event. Whether through attending events, researching and working through difficult issues, making donations and bringing coupons to Mattie Williams, and, ever year until more recently, delivering food and gifts to Safety Harbor’s senior citizens for the Christmas holiday. “She was very caring and giving,” Hooper said, “She wanted to recognize everyone.”

Ms. Williams’ obituary can be found on the Dignity Memorial website. According to the site, a service will be held at 10 am on June 6 at Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park. Ever dedicated to the residents of Safety Harbor, Ms. Williams asked that donations in her memory be made to Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center.

Commission Notes: June 3, 2019

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Safety Harbor City Hall (Photo/Kathryn Malaxos)

A short one! Shorter than it appears to be here!

Audience to be Heard (on non-agenda items)

Resident Frank Pattison shared concerns about the dog park at City Park. He reported that a large dead tree lost a limb over the weekend and this was removed from the dog park area by residents. Pattison wanted the City to be aware due to safety concerns. He noted a need for more regular maintenance of the park, including fence repair, regular raking of the ground cover surface, and fountain repair.

Pattison shared that noise and parking overflow at Crooked Thumb can be problematic, including parked cars blocking the fire hydrant, and suggested this be monitored.

Pattison inquired about extension of the brick pavers along 7th Street South. Public Works Director Ray Boler shared that a design project is scheduled for extension of the brick pavers in that area.

Consent Agenda

Approval of Minutes from the previous Commission meeting on May 20 passed, 4-0.

Public Hearing

The Commission passed Resolution 2019-07, 4-0 (with correction of a tiny typo on page two), asking Governor DeSantis to veto CS/HB 1159. The Bill, specifically about private property rights and tree ordinances, would give the state government authority over these issues and is at odds with the concept of Home Rule. (More on Home Rule from the Florida League of Cities here.)

Municipalities shall have governmental, corporate and proprietary powers to enable them to conduct municipal government, perform municipal functions and render municipal services, and may exercise power for municipal purposes except as otherwise provided by law.

The Florida Constitution, Article VIII, Section 2(b)

Ray Boler noted that other local cities are also encouraging a veto of CS/HB 1159. Cliff Merz shared appreciation for the Commission having a meeting in order to discuss the Resolution, as this item may come before the Governor prior to the next City Commission meeting.

Earlier this month as reported by the Tampa Bay Times and others, DeSantis vetoed a bill that would have prohibited local governments from banning plastic straws, a move appreciated by both environmentalists and Home Rule advocates.

Commission Reports

Commissioner Nancy Besore shared that a former member of the Safety Harbor City Commission, Mary Lynda Williams, has passed away. Besore acknowledged Commissioner Williams service and dedication to Safety Harbor. A memorial for Williams will be held at Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park on Thursday morning.

Besore encouraged attendance at this Friday morning’s living shoreline planting event at Waterfront Park.

Commissioner Cliff Merz appreciated the Memorial Day Ceremony sponsored by VFW Post 10093 – Safety Harbor and enjoyed the community Movie in the Park event for the premiere of Hallmark’s Love in the Sun movie, noting that it was “a nice opportunity and a good showing of the city and our community.”

Keep Reading

Ready for 100

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(Photo/Kathryn Malaxos)

Bryan Beckman of the Suncoast Sierra Club presented the Ready for 100 Campaign to the City Commission on May 20. The Sierra Club wants cities to commit to transition to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050. Some members of the meeting audience wore stickers or green tee shirts in support. Beckman shared the benefits of solar and wind power:

  • Fossil fuels emit hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide per million British Thermal Units (BTUs) while solar and wind emit none;
  • Renewables do not pollute the earth and cost less than fossil fuels;
  • Solar energy recently had an 88% drop in cost.

Problems with windmills

During public comment, Jonathan Brewer, the city’s volunteer Economic Development Liaison, expressed concern. He mentioned recent research on windmills was not all positive: “The effects of windmills and solar really have a negative effect on the climate and local weather patterns,” he said. Speaking after the meeting, Brewer said he is not opposed to the measure and supports “anything more environmentally-friendly” but wants the city to consider unintended consequences.

“The down side of wind power” by Leah Burrows (The Harvard Gazette article mentioned by Brewer) includes comments from David Keith, professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard University. Keith says “Wind beats coal by any environmental measure, but that doesn’t mean that its impacts are negligible. We must quickly transition away from fossil fuels to stop carbon emissions. In doing so, we must make choices between various low-carbon technologies, all of which have some social and environmental impacts.”

If your perspective is the next ten years, wind power actually has — in some respects — more climate impact than coal or gas. If your perspective is the next thousand years, then wind power has enormously less climatic impact than coal or gas.

David Keith, Harvard professor • The Harvard Gazette

Matt Spoor, Safety Harbor City Manager, said the city has “no intention of any large-scale wind farms.”

Brewer also stated that “Duke will not have the resources to provide us with renewable energy if their energy plan is to be at 23% renewables by 2050.” And Brewer is correct: On its current path, Duke Energy would not be able to support the entire community by 2050.

How long do we have?

While some suggest caution, other environmental advocates don’t think the Sierra Club’s goals go far enough. Extinction Rebellion holds protests in both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties to highlight the need for climate change action. James Lamont from the Tampa Extinction Rebellion group says the Sierra Club’s Ready For 100 Campaign deserves credit for helping to move public conversation from “cutting” to “eliminating” emissions. But Lamont says updated climate change information means the Sierra Club’s target date of 2050 for 100% renewables is already woefully out-of-date. Extinction Rebellion advocates net-zero emissions by 2025.

Who’s in?

Safety Harbor Mayor Joe Ayoub and mayors from Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Dunedin have signed the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy Endorsement.

Clearwater and Tampa are in the process of adopting campaign goals and Largo has “committed to transition the community-wide energy supply to 100% clean and renewable energy for all, and to transition the municipal energy supply to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2035 with 50% by 2030.”

Commission Response

Commissioner Nancy Besore said she loves the idea of “starting with some thing we can, and moving from there.” She noted Pinellas County’s recent addition of a climate change resiliency officer.

Commissioner Andy Zodrow said, “If you can’t get a coastal community in the state of Florida on board with 100% renewables, then I really have concerns about the fate of humanity. We are about 700 yards from Tampa Bay. We just got a report in last week that they raised the sea level rise from three to eight-and-a-half feet. That is really important to understand.” Zodrow reminded the Commission and audience of FEMA updates to flood zone maps. He strongly recommended implementation of some goals.

Community members who spoke in support of Ready for 100 at the Commission meeting included:

  • Kayla Dixon, Countryside High school student, represented We the Students.
  • Mike Moscardini spoke as a representative of Whispering Souls African American Cemetery.
  • Father Joe Diaz, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, reflected on his upcoming 80th birthday: “The paradise I grew up in is evaporating before my eyes.”
  • Kevin McCullough and Brandt Robinson shared support from Indivisible Safety Harbor.
  • Jessica Harrington, a public school teacher and candidate for State Representative – District 64, cited a United Nations report and asked the Commission to support Ready for 100.

How we make a difference is by having the courage to say that we are going to stand up for this and we are going to do this. We have eleven years to make this right.

Jessica Harrington, FL-64 House of Representatives candidate

What now?

Some power companies are committing to renewable energy production. MidAmerican Energy has plans to be 100% renewable by 2020. XCEL Energy and Idaho Power share a goal to have 100% reduction of CO2 emissions between 2045 and 2050.  Florida communities can pressure their energy companies to use more renewable energy, too.

At the meeting, the Sierra Club’s Beckman shared steps cities can take toward meeting Ready for 100 goals such as reducing energy consumption by making small changes like switching to LED bulbs, installing renewables such as solar where possible, and partnering with energy providers to purchase energy from renewable sources for remaining needs. Also, residents and businesses can make changes without waiting for the city.

What’s next?

City Manager Matt Spoor reflected on Safety Harbor’s ongoing progress to date: Approximately 90% of the city’s facilities’ lighting has been replaced with LED lights. City-owned street lights and bollards were replaced or will be replaced with LED this year. Duke Energy upgraded all Duke Energy-owned street lights to LED lights in 2018. The City Park ball field lights have not yet been replaced. There will be an EV charging station at the library.

Brewer, the Economic Development Liaison, suggests the city put together a community working group. The group, he suggested, could discuss possibilities and make recommendation to the Commission.

The Commission asked City staff to draft a resolution supporting Ready for 100. If approved, the goal-setting process will begin.

Nearby, Clearwater recently hired a sustainability coordinator. Will Safety Harbor consider this level of commitment, too? A sustainability expert could partner with community groups and volunteers, evaluate where we are, coordinate an energy audit and create an action plan.

View Bryan Beckman’s presentation to the City Commission here.


Commission Notes: May 20, 2019

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Safety Harbor City Hall (Photo/Kathryn Malaxos)

According to a February 12, 2018 piece posted on the Strong Towns website, residents of some cities have a difficult time finding information about public meetings. Standing room only for Monday night’s City Commission meeting suggests the City of Safety Harbor does not share that problem. (Agendas, minutes, and backup materials as well as recordings of the Commission meetings can be found on the city website and scheduled meetings are posted on the city website calendar.)

A few notes from the May 20, 2019 meeting:

Chris Steffens of the Finance Department was recognized as the Employee of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2019.

The Sierra Club presented information about the Ready for 100 Campaign. The campaign asks cities to commit to transitioning to clean, renewable energy. Mayor Joe Ayoub had previously pledged support for the campaign and the Commission requested that city staff draft a resolution. If approved, that resolution will begin the planning process.

Mayor Ayoub presented a proclamation for National Public Works Week, May 19-25.

The Parks and Recreation Staff presented a programming update for Folly Farms. All ages can participate in the monthly Explore, Discover, Grow program at the Farm. The next Explore, Discover, Grow program will be on June 8th; the focus will be on reptiles.

The Commission discussed, heard public comment, and achieved consensus on an update to the Downtown Master plan for areas where the maximum height restrictions have been 45 feet. The draft language was approved with the addition of a minimum percentage for balconies and a requirement for inclusion of four of the seven proposed design elements. The Downtown Redevelopment Board public hearing will be on June 12 at 6:30 pm.

In response to concerns expressed by residents at previous Commission meetings, city staff will draft new code language regarding security cameras installed on private homes.

An unfortunate, unexpected combination of wind and tide during construction of the living shoreline at Waterfront Park caused erosion and resulted in a change of design plan in order to bolster protective elements. The Commission approved funding in the amount of $40,993.16 for this.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board presented a concept plan for enhancement of two lots south of the Baranoff oak on Main Street at Second Ave. N. City Manager Matt Spoor noted that a priority in design of this area is “to keep as much impervious surface as possible for the tree roots.” After discussion, the Commission left open potential adjustment to the number of concrete loungers to be installed in the park. The Commission approved the concept plan for the park with addition of an “artistic” bike rack and a dog and people water station.

View the meeting live stream for more details and information here.

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