January 25 2020
Archaeologists and art Art, Archaeology and History in St. Augustine will be presented by The Historic St. Augustine Research Institute on Monday, February 3 and Tuesday February 18 in the Flagler Room at Flagler College. The Art of Everyday Life: Archaeologists Look at Forms of Artistic Expression will be discussed by archaeologists Kathleen Deagan, Carl Halbirt and J.T. Milanich February 3 at 7 pm. Paint the Picture, Tell the Story, The Florida Paintings of Jackson Walker will be discussed by the painter Tuesday, February 18. Both presentations will be 7 - 8 pm. The series is free, no reservations, but seating is limited.
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History’s Highlight The Lost Fleet of Jean Ribault  In 2014 Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program (LAMP) Director Chuck Meide led a LAMP team hoping to contribute to St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary the following year with the discovery of the lost fleet. With $50,000 grants from both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation and other partners, the expedition spent three weeks searching the ocean floor - to no avail. Meide said the shoreline could have changed over the years; perhaps the wrecks are under what is now sand; it could be just too deep to find. Meide said they will continue looking for grants, so they can continue the search for the French fleet. Following is an account by LAMP Director Meide. Early in 1565, France's King Charles sent Jean Ribault to re-supply and assume command of Fort Caroline, which had been established the previous year on the banks of the River of May (St. John's River) in present- day Jacksonville. Ribault led a powerful fleet consisting of his 32-gun flagship, Trinité, the 29-gun royal galleon Emérillon, and four other war, supply, and dispatch ships. One thousand French colonists and troops came with him to bolster the fledgling French colony. Unbeknownst to Ribault, a Spanish expedition lead by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés arrived in Florida at virtually the same time, with the express purpose of destroying the French enterprise. In a preemptive strike aimed at thwarting Menéndez' plans to found St. Augustine, Ribault sailed his fleet southwards, only to be struck by a hurricane which scattered and wrecked his ships between Matanzas Inlet and Cape Canaveral. With the loss of these ships, Fort Caroline was taken, Ribault and his men put to the sword, and Spain established a firm grip over the frontier lands of Florida. If not for these wrecks, St. Augustine would not exist today, and Jacksonville would be celebrating over 400 years of French heritage. When found, these ships will constitute the oldest French shipwrecks ever discovered in the New World, and possibly the only 16th century French galleons to have been investigated by archaeologists. Historian Dr. John de Bry of the Center for Archaeological Research has pledged to conduct documentary research in French archives at no charge to LAMP, to help pinpoint the final resting places of these ships and identify each when found. Archaeological traces of survivors' beach camps, including finds of French artifacts and coins, will also help narrow down the search area for these lost galleons. Image: Ribault’s doomed fleet, courtesy of William Trotter
Local regulations, state legislation 2-front battle Meanwhile City Manager John Regan and City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline traveled to Tallahassee Tuesday to speak at a House committee hearing on a bill that would enable the state to regulate short term rentals. "We are opposed to the bill," Regan told First Coast News reporter Jessica Clark, “because every municipality is different, and no one size fits all. "What we might need or might be desired by our population in terms of regulation might not be the same as Miami, Orlando or Tampa." The City Manager says he's not against short term rentals, but he is concerned about how they're regulated. "Short term rentals are best regulated at the local level," Regan says. "This is another example of the erosion of home rule." The Legislature banned cities and counties from adopting new vacation rental rules in 2011, while grandfathering in any rental rules adopted prior to the bill’s passage. Facing a public backlash, lawmakers revised the preemption statute in 2014 and allowed communities to regulate rentals, so long as they did not ban them outright or limit their frequency or duration. Now lawmakers want to go back to the 2011 standard and outlaw all local vacation rental regulations, while continuing to grandfather in rental rules adopted before then.
Putting workshops to work  Mayor Tracy Upchurch two weeks ago recommended much of the commission’s work might be better handled in less formal workshops, where no official action can be taken but nuts and bolts of issues can be sorted out. City Manager John Regan will lead a “discussion regarding the scheduling of Workshop dates” at Monday’s commission meeting. 
Rental regulations on center stage The battle between residents concerned about neighborhood erosion and short-term rental property owners seeking extra money to maintain their homes takes center stage Monday night as the City Commission conducts public hearings on a cluster of short- term rental regulation ordinances. The regular commission meeting begins at 5 pm in the Alcazar Room at City Hall and is live streamed on CoSA.TV. The public hearings on three ordinances follows the public comment period at the top of the agenda. The regulations developed by a citizen short-term rental committee includes registration, annual inspection, intensity of use, ancillary use, life‐safety, parking, solid waste, effects on existing contracts and violations and penalties. The three ordinances include: Regulation of short-term rentals Existing regulations for RS-1 and RS-2 zoning, requiring seven-day short-term rental periods Existing regulations requiring monthly rentals for HP-1 zone and waterways The city’s Planning and Zoning Board sent its recommendations to the commission earlier this month. Its discussion reflected the community split on the matter. Some members spoke of preserving residential neighborhoods while board chair Karen Zander, a real estate agent, described the regulations as “creating homeowner associations.” In a two-hour discussion at the end of a 7-hour meeting, the board recommended: 1. Maximum guests per room: Up to two children per rental be allowed in addition to the maximum two adults that are allowed under the current ordinance.  2. Compact exit lighting: An additional life/safety requirement of “compact exit lights” to mark exits.  3. Parking requirements: “stabilized parking” should be defined. No parking requirement in Historic Preservation zones, where parking is not otherwise required. 4. Water rates: Consider whether vacation rentals use more water than a typical residential property, and if there should be a different rate structure for vacation rentals.
Commission shade meeting    City commissioners will hold a shade meeting at 4 pm Monday, before their regular session at 5 pm in the Alcazar Room at City Hall. The subject is Case No.: CA-05-186, Craig A. Marlowe; Plaintiff, v. City of St. Augustine, Florida, a municipal corporation, Defendant. “The lawsuit was filed 15 years ago regarding a dispute over riparian rights and docks between neighbors,” City Attorney Isabelle Lopez says. “The City was added as a party because of its riparian rights to East San Carlos Avenue.” Shade meetings are for discussions out of public view, and in legal cases like this often indicate a settlement is pending.
Winery plans are part of Inland Harbor project SA Marina Holdings, LLC, an extension of the group that renovated the San Marco Inn into a Doubletree, is teaming up with Seavin, owner of the St. Augustine Winery, to develop the San Sebastian Inland Harbor project at US 1 and King Street. Seavin’s Charles Cox announced several months ago plans to develop a restaurant and retail space along King Street adjacent to the winery and Inland Harbor project.
Names in the news Hunter Conrad has been chosen as new permanent county administrator by St. Johns County commissioners, bypassing a national search and without public notice. Commissioners said he’s been doing a good job since replacing fired Michael Wanchick in November. Conrad was clerk of court and comptroller. Raye Brutnell, former St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office finance director, is being sued by the sheriff’s office for more than $700,000. Brutnell is accused of stealing from the law enforcement agency, according to a lawsuit filed in St. Johns County civil court. Brutnell faces 11 felony charges.
$499,999 grant to assess mitigate hurricane damage to shipwreck sites The St. Augustine Lighthouse Archaeological Maritime Program, Inc. (LAMP) has been awarded a $499,999 grant “to allow museum archaeologists to assess and mitigate damage caused by Hurricane Irma at eight previously investigated shipwreck and shoreline sites,” says Nicholas Budsberg, a LAMP archaeologist who helped write the grant. The National Park Service subgrant from the Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources is funded by the National Park Service Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria Emergency Supplemental Historic Preservation Fund Grant Program. The research funded by this grant will also allow archaeologists to re- investigate at least six offshore shipwreck sites along with two additional maritime sites located in the river bottom and tidal zone of the Tolomato River and Robinson Creek, LAMP spokespersons say. “The sites we are interested in are from a wide range of history and pre-history,” says Museum Archaeological Director Chuck Meide. “We will be assessing these sites to determine a plan to best protect them from this kind of damage.” The team will produce 3D models of the sites as they map the sites underwater. This in turn may provide opportunities to locate and document other shipwrecks and cultural heritage. It will also aid educational programing at the Museum.