HOW DO YOU SUPPORT SAFETY IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS?
POLICE - The safety of our citizens is, above everything else, my foremost concern. I have supported and will continue to support our police department ensuring that they always have the best equipment not only to do their jobs effectively, but to also protect themselves from the dangers they face every day. Policing has changed over the past few years as have the expectations and demands.
FIRE - As I have supported the police, I have also supported our firefighters and paramedics. I supported the construction of a new fire station and the renovation of another of our aging fire stations. This work will allow better coverage of our neighborhoods against fires and emergency operations.
WHAT IS YOUR STANCE ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOBS?
Being in business in Clearwater for almost 40 years has given me the understanding that a strong economic development program is essential in keeping a community vibrant. The better the business environment, the more job opportunities, the more services for our citizens and a better tax base keeping property taxes from rising. I understand that creating a strong business environment creates revenue that supports more services and parks for our citizens.
HOW WILL YOU SUPPORT HEALTHY NEIGHBORHOODS?
During the past four years I have supported changes in our code enforcement rules. One of the most frequent complaints we have had by neighborhoods is Code Enforcement compliance. We have changed the rules for chronic offenders to add foreclosure as a last resort. This has helped clean up many properties for the betterment of neighborhoods.
WHAT IS BEING DONE TO BRING MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN CLEARWATER?
Through the Community Redevelopment Agency we have issued Requests for Proposals for affordable housing and currently have several projects in the works. The Gardens- an 84 unit apartment complex with workforce rates is planned for Cleveland St. across from Cleveland Plaza shopping center. Blue Sky Communities will be constructing an 81-unit affordable housing complex in the downtown area occupied by renters making between 30 and 80 percent of the median area income. In an effort to build more affordable housing in the city and bring residents downtown to aid in revitalization, the city is pursuing another developer’s plan to build 171 apartment units on city-owned property between South Washington and Martin Luther King Jr. avenues. The $38 million project would be a collaboration between the city, Pinellas County and SP Clearwater, an affiliate of Tampa-based Southport Financial Services, led by developers Peter Leach and David Page.
HOW WILL YOU IMPROVE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION & BEACH TRAFFIC?
I have always thought a strong transportation program is an essential community service. I proudly serve on the Pinellas Suncoast Transportation Authority (PSTA) Board and have lobbied for more frequency on our more than 40 bus routes. I’ve also been leading the charge to move the antiquated Clearwater bus station located downtown to a new Intermodal station located at the corner of Court St. and Myrtle Ave. We are awaiting the award of a Federal R.A.I.S.E grant to move forward. Transportation planning goes hand-in-hand with land planning. I serve as Treasurer on our local MPO and Land Planning organization, Forward Pinellas Board. We are the area land planning council. Many future projects rely on transit advancement in order to be feasible.
I also serve as Vice-Chair of the Waterborne Transportation sub-committee that is planning ferry service throughout Pinellas County, under the wing of PSTA. The expanded ferry service becomes part of the public transit system, not just a pleasure cruise for tourists. This will help take some of the traffic congestion off Clearwater Beach. Imagine taking a bus, then ferry using the same touchless payment system.
WHAT’S YOUR STANCE ON CITY SERVICES?
Two of the last four years have been affected by COVID. Even with the pandemic, your City services remained in effect. I credit the city staff for getting their job done and not letting our citizens down. Water and sewer systems have always worked. Trash pick-ups took place on schedule. Libraries scaled back hours, but were open. Parks were maintained, sidewalks were repaired, potholes were filled and that was done with severely scaled back personnel. Kudo’s to our City Manager, staff & personnel.
WHAT’S YOUR STANCE ON MAINTAINING INFRASTRUCTURE?
The city maintains a rigorous maintenance program for repairing and replacement of our aging infrastructure. We have installed special sewer manhole covers to seal unintended water from entering our sewer system and monitor problem areas so overflow spills don’t happen. The City maintains hundreds of miles of sidewalks & roads.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SCIENTOLOGY?
Having lived here all my life I have experienced Scientology since they arrived in the 1970’s. It was easy for Scientology to gain a foothold in an empty downtown which had lost its merchants and businesses which had left years before to relocate in malls as urban areas expanded outward.
I’ve been disappointed they have not tried to work more collaboratively with the City to restore that vibrancy I remember from my youth.
As a City Councilmember I have the duty and responsibility to represent all citizens of Clearwater whether I agree with their philosophy or not. I remain open to having a meaningful dialog with the Church leaders in the hope that they will be more forthcoming with their future intentions and that we can work together to find a common ground to improve the downtown area. In the meantime, I want to focus more on what we, as a council and as a community can do to improve our downtown and not spend our time worrying about what the Church of Scientology is going to do or not do.
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES?
The Council just adopted GREENPRINT 2.0, the city's sustainability master plan. It was adopted to create a vision to make the city of Clearwater a vibrant community for current residents and future generations. It includes a plan for reducing our carbon footprint substantially by 2050. As a retired General Contractor, I believe that all future city owned facilities and capital projects proposed by the city be built to LEED Gold standard specifications, although not through the certification process which adds an additional cost. We should diversify our enterprise utilities to offer green energy alternatives. We should all strive to be greener in the future.
Emergency Communication BDA requirement legislation
Last year International Fire Code (IFC 510) was going into effect stating that all buildings shall have approved radio coverage for emergency responders within the building and shall not require improvement of the existing public safety communications system. It requires all buildings to meet minimum signal standards for public safety radio services. The IFC was supported by the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA) 72 and Florida Statute 633.202. The Clearwater Fire Department’s solution, to ensure the safety of our first responders, is that all multi-story buildings above a certain height install bi-directional amplification (BDA’s) systems. Implementation was initially set for 2019, then extended to 2023 for buildings over 75’ and 2025 for buildings under 75’.
The responsibility of upgrading BDA’s will fall on the shoulders of owners of buildings 7 stories or higher. The impact to the 27 HOA’s on Sand Key was estimated at $2.3- 3 million, and BDA manufacturers have identified Florida as a $2 billion market opportunity.
Thanks to Senator Ed Hooper passing a bill last year that puts off this requirement until 2025. This gives us several years to research a better solution to emergency communications that will have less of a financial burden on our condo owners. I have been working with Senator Hooper and our local governments to be aware of this terrible burden and help us come up with a more equitable plan that will protect our first responders without placing the financial burden on our property owners.
WHAT OTHER ISSUES HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON FOR THE BETTERMENT OF CLEARWATER?
I’ve lobbied our State representatives and Senators as well as gone to Tallahassee several times to restore Home Rule to Clearwater on several issues:
DERELICT VESSELS - With the help of our lobbyist and State Representatives, I’ve tried to get a Bill passed in the past several years to restrict the anchoring of derelict vessels in intercoastal waters in Clearwater. We’ve seen a huge number of non-seaworthy vessels in Clearwater’s harbor in the last several years that tend to break their mooring in high winds and damage private docks. We’ve been unsuccessful in getting a Bill passed, however, the State FWC (Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission) is working successfully with Clearwater Police to impound derelict vessels. We have modified our ordinance re-defining “derelict vessels” making it easier to get them impounded.
As a retired General Contractor I am well trained in the process of pulling permits in the city. To the layperson, it usually is an arduous task to navigate permitting. In 2022 the City is looking at streamlining the process making it more customer-friendly. I look forward to working with our new city manager and finding better and more efficient ways to simplify and improve citizen’s experience in working with all of the city departments.
EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS - In July of 2021, an International emergency radio law was to go into effect that would cause owners of buildings four stories and over to upgrade their emergency radio repeaters at a substantial cost. The estimated cost to upgrade structures just on Sand Key was $4 million. I worked with several local communications experts & condo association Presidents and with State Senator Hooper to pass a bill to delay the mandatory enhancement for four years to give us time to develop a technology that will work effectively at a lower cost.
ISLAND ESTATES SIDEWALK EXPANSION - Island Estates has only one point to enter and exit the island. Because of the high volume of pedestrian and bicycle traffic, I was successful in having the sidewalk expanded to an 8’ width from the causeway to Island Way Grill.