Thursday, September 22, 2011

For live link to 2 p.m. City Commission Work Session on Beach Budget

Click here.  For complete back-up, click here.  I'm juggling a few things today and will be listening, commenting off and on.  By the way, in each of the last two meetings I have been a part of or attended in the Commission chambers, the power has gone off for about five seconds twice.  This entails a re-set of the Internet feed, so the stream may stop and start again, at times.

They are fumbling around trying to figure out when and how the lighting part of the budget ($2.8 million, including some water improvements) came on the scene - they seem to think that it came after the County's agreement.  They are saying that the lighting and the water needed to be done anyway regardless of whether there was a project or not - and that would have been funded by the utility eventually.  Now, they are talking about what type of lighting they will require.  Waterman wants to know if the $90,000 was for turtle lights and what was originally spec'd for that figure.  Kimley Horn says that was an allowance, but directed towards the actual beach - no real estimate that went along with that figure.  They thought that they could use some other "contingency" monies.

The construction documents have been submitted to the city, but not final since the scope of the project is not finalized (?).  Maxwell is asking about leases and what sorts of operating hours are being discussed and if there is any liability the city may have if it doesn't have enough lighting during those hours.  Johnny Longboats wants to stay open to 1 a.m.  The pier is open until 10 p.m.

The casino building will have a sprinkler system, the old one did not.  A fire pump is not included, there is adequate water pressure.  Maxwell is asking if there is anything related to the building that would require additional water pressure - staff responded that there are other facilities now that weren't there before.  Stanton is saying that these water improvements need to be done anyway.  Commissioner Golden says that he would be getting a straight answer if he asked a straight question (meow!)

Maxwell is making the point that everyone knew about the lights way back when.  Stanton says we didn't know the exact type or quantity.  The $90,000 was undefined.  Maxwell said that it was for turtle light by the beachfront.  Stanton says it should have been a CIP item as part of the utility budget.  Stanton says that you don't necessarily need lights by the casino building - that up until a few months ago businesses were operating there at night without parking lot lights and she thinks that is o.k.  Maxwell is making the point that this was an oversight and needed to be known.  Mulvehill says that the only lighting was talked about and included was lighting along the beachfront.  She is surprised and wonders if they could have design a $3 million project plus lights.  McVoy says that lighting wasn't needed because it was a "park" and not a commercial use.

Maxwell is wondering if the tenants know this and they know the conditions that they will operate at night.  Stanton says that they know it.  Part of the enticement of the project is its ocean location (fish don't shop Ms. Stanton.)  Golden says there are gigantic lights there and that turtles would go back out to the ocean if they saw them.  (Ms. Golden, the thing about turtle lights is that they are shielded for when hatchlings come out of their eggs - that they go towards the ocean and not towards the artificial lighting on shore.  Bright lights do not prevent turtles from laying eggs or make them go somewhere else.)

Now they are trying to analyze the amount of clientele that would be going there at night.  Waterman just thinks we need 100 lighted spaces near the casino.  (What does the business plan say about parking revenue assumptions?)  The lights have gone in for DEP permitting and the permit has not been issued yet.  Maxwell thinks that he has been misled on the costs of both projects and wants to know who knew what when.  Stanton says that ultimately it is she that he should aim her concerns.  He is asking for a special meeting on both projects and review the project to find out how we got where we are today.  McVoy says that there might not be consistent interpretations of what happened.

Stanton says that this is coming down to a "gotcha" contest by people who want to say that we shouldn't have gone ahead with this project in the first place. (GAG)  Looking at either project like this wouldn't be productive.  Waterman says that this is just the natural progression of the project and the lights are now something they have to decide whether or not to approve them and what type.   Mulvehill says she can't see lights on previous plans but now we know they are an issue.

Jason Bregman says that they looked at the issue when they worked on the project in 2009.  City staff at the time didn't know if there would be night time use of the beach at the time.  They met with DEP at the time too.  Stanton says that we are treating this like street lights since it would benefit the entire community.  Maxwell is critical of the background preparation and has a low confidence level of the staff.  Stanton says that he has been critical of the project all along.  Waterman cut them off and goes back to the 100 space idea.  Mulvehill says we have to think long term and that we need something for the long term and that 100 spaces would not be enough.  Waterman says maybe they use regular lights and just use them during the non-turtle season of the year for larger events.  She is being told that we can't leave the lights that are there now - the city has been told to take the existing ones down as part of the permitting for the project.  McVoy is trying to get around the requirement (the state will not let you - they don't trust that the wrong lights would be on at the wrong time anyway.)

It still sounds like they are confused and talking in circles.  Waterman is asking when the leases will generate a profit so that they could use that money to supplement lights in the future.  Maxwell says that we need to incorporate everything into the leases and it may not be attractive to tenants.  (They are forgetting the ballroom - which should be a money maker for the city and would require people being there at night - no one has mentioned this.)

Maxwell is very disappointed that his colleagues are willing to pay anything for these lights. Waterman said G-D lights - oops.  She says she is not saying that.  McVoy says that we could choose not to have lights.  Maxwell says that we don't know a lot of things.  Stanton says that we don't have leases yet, no bids yet, etc.  Mulvehill finally recognizes the ballroom - I wonder if they are reading this blog from the dais.  Waterman corrected herself.  If not, someone could be relaying this.

Now they are talking about foot candles and "luminosity" - Golden says that we still have the moon to deal with.  Please.  It sounds like they are going ahead with the "rough in" for the lights now.  Waterman is saying they will be going on and filling in what is needed over time as the building makes money.

Margoles says that the staff has been working on the numbers, figures on the various items up until this morning, so not everything ended up in the packet.

Wind Turbines - Mulvehill asks if there is some private/public partnership to pay for them or share the cost.  They are currently add/alternates if they had the money. McVoy doubts that someone would go for that but they could be given mention in quarter inch high letters (?)

It turns out that people from the county were at the meeting and left.  Now they would like them there since they are talking about eliminating the playground, which is part of the interlocal agreement.

Meeting over at 5:35 p.m. with little accomplished that I could tell.