City Manager’s Report

Bill Prokop

18 Jan City Manager’s Report

City Manager’s Comments                                     1/12/2016

 

Good evening: As you know one of the major goals that we as a staff had set for ourselves over this past year is to improve our communications with our residents. We feel that we have made a great deal of progress in this area and we know there is still room for improvement.

 

To be real successful communications has to be both relayed and received and most importantly be factual. Recently, there seems to be a great deal of misinformation being communicated by individuals or groups that is not factual. This ranges from comments about our new parking ordinances, or how we allowed Walmart to get approval to build on Lady’s Island, how Boundary Street is going to be full of roundabouts and only be 2 lanes, or how gangs are responsible for the crime we have in Beaufort, to how we don’t want new business to come to Beaufort, and in some cases how we are allowing development and clear cutting in areas that are not even in the City of Beaufort. We welcome all comments and suggestions from our residents but we ask our residents to please feel free to check the facts on these statements that are being made, look at our website, call us to ask for clarification, or just come in and see us. All our development approvals, financial data, and committee notes are available to the public. Many members of our community spend hours of their time on committees to help in making decisions that benefit us all. We need to respect and understand the work that they have done. One sided communications helps no one, and if we are going to have good communications on any topic it has to be factual, and when it is, it helps us all.

 

The new Fire Station (Station 2) was officially opened last Friday, January 8th. I want to thank council for the support they have given to have that station built. It is something we all will be proud of for years to come. Additionally, I want to especially thank Chief Negron for all the effort that he put in over many years to insure that the project stayed on everyone’s radar. Also, as you know Chief Negron will officially step down as Chief this coming Friday, January 15th, we thank him for his leadership and leaving the department with top notch Fire Fighters and Officers, First Class equipment, and Great facilities that are there to protect and serve our community. Sammy, your achievements have set the way for the future – Thank you.

 

Our Transient Dock construction bids are out and the construction and repair of that dock should be underway in the next few months. At the same time we are going to see if we can make improvements to our current “Dingy ” (old Day Dock) while the contractors are here. Regarding our new Day Dock all permit applications have been filed and we expect to have approval by the end of May. Once the permits are approved we will go out for construction bids. At this point all I can say is that we expect it to be completed by the end of this year. Also, to remind the public all the cost for these projects with the exception of the “Dingy Dock” is covered from grants or reserves that have been made. We expect the cost of the “Dingy Dock” can be worked in to our current operations budget.

 

Boundary Street construction is underway and this is a 2 year program, so don’t expect to see roads all torn up or power and utility lines coming down in the near future. This is a long slow process with an awful lot of behind the scenes work being performed. We will be hosting Friday afternoon open sessions from 3:00 – 5:00 at City Hall to explain the project and answer any questions for those that just want to stop and ask. This is in addition to a website, facebook and twitter feed that will be updated daily.

 

Property Sale, The excess property that we have put up for sale has generated interest and we have already received bids on several locations. The bidding will close on January 29th, bids will be opened at the February 9th work session and we hope to select the successful bidders in early February. All the details on the property and the details of how the bidding works are posted on our website. We welcome anyone to call with questions.

We always say how Beaufort is getting more and more popular and yesterday’s NY Times listed Beaufort as one of the top 52 places to visit in the World in 2016, well our City staff is helping make that happen: On February 9th we will be hosting the Association of Low County Licensing Officials annual meeting. And on March 19th we will be hosting the SC Chapter American Planning Association annual meeting. Two very important groups visiting and learning about Beaufort and we are looking forward to council’s participation and in meeting our associates from other cities and towns.

 

Update on Parking and our new 500 Carteret Street lot. You might have noticed that our new meters have been installed on Bay Street extension, Scott and West Streets as well as Craven Street Repairs have been made and black sleeves have been installed to several of the old posts. SP+ has done a great job in switching over to our new enforcement times, rates, and time limits with (and I should not say this) very few complaints. We are finalizing our plans for the parking at 500 Carteret Street where we will be offering 8 hour parking at .50 cents per hour, and also a discounted monthly parking rate for employees of downtown businesses. There will be a section of the lot that will be only for employees. We will be installing 2 kiosks in the lot and hope to have everything up and running before the end of this month. We will also be extending parking meters on Carteret Street to 500 Carteret and we will be doing the same on Scott Street, these will all come to council at our next meeting as an amendment to our parking ordinance. The Parking Committee will be developing a residential parking permit program to address the parking on West Street between Craven and North Streets which at times do not allow the residents to park near their homes. As far as the building goes we are having discussions with several developers who are interested in the building for future development and we are having discussions with several potential tenants. More details will be coming to you on this in the next 30 days.

 

An update on our request for FEMA reimbursement for flood damages. First, we did get approval for approximately $3500.00 of reimbursement for the second repair to the Pigeon Point Dock and yesterday morning staff met with Mr. Anderson from FEMA to discuss the concerns and mitigation dollars we are requesting for the Water Front Park seawall. We are asking for $45,000 for underwater analysis and engineering studies and some basic repair work. We are in the process of preparing a background report for FEMA and we know that most decisions will be made by the end of March. I want to thank our staff for preparing all the information that is needed to see if we can be eligible for some funding.

 

And finally, last but not least I want to again remind everyone that we will be bringing to Council next Tuesday in a work session recommendations on changes to our Business License Ordinance. There will be 3 components; Registration of all businesses for conducting any type of business in the City, the fees for all organizations that compete with For-Profit businesses, and the licensing of all Group events. These changes have been developed after consultation with legal council from Columbia as well as our own City Attorney. We feel that these ordinances will level the playing field and make it equitable for all to do business in the City.