April 21 2018
Published by former Mayor George Gardner The Report is an independent publication serving our community Contributions are appreciated
Romanza Festivale returns May 4 - 13 St. Augustine’s Romanza Festivale of Music & The Arts returns May 4 - 13 with a showcase of art and music in America’s Most Romantic City. Look for more than 60 events and exhibits by dozens of organizations and creative businesses. Daily events include music and dance performances, concerts, art shows, dramatic productions and more at locations throughout the city. Many events are free, and admission is required for others. Visit the website.
History’s highlight Another Gilded Age developer inspired Flagler An account by Elizabeth Kimball Oliver, 2000 Franklin W. Smith (1826–1911) made his fortune as a Boston hardware merchant. He made his mark on St. Augustine as designer of the Villa Zorayda and Casa Monica Hotel. In his European travels he noted the Roman construction method of layering the walls of their buildings. And he was fascinated with the design of the Moorish style he saw. The two concepts came together in 1883 in his winter home, Villa Zorayda, incorporating layered poured coquina concrete with Moorish Revival architecture. Both construction method and style would inspire Henry Flagler on his first visit in 1885. After the Villa Zorayda, Smith became obsessed with the idea of building a luxury hotel. The result was the spectacular Casa Monica Hotel. The Moorish design comple-mented the buildings Henry M. Flagler had built. Smith had persuaded Flagler to use the same poured coquina concrete construction. The Casa Monica Hotel was a U-shaped building with five towers, some battlemented, some with hip roofs. The large corner tower boasts an exterior spiral column. Small shops were established at street level on King Street. Tiles, imported from Valencia, Spain, were set in panels in some of the exterior walls. The Casa Monica provided 200 rooms, with closets, gas lighting, steam heat and electric bells to call for service. There was one bath on each floor. Fire escapes consisted of metal rings attached to the walls under the windows to which were tied a rope long enough to reach the ground. The Casa Monica opened on January17, 1888. But Smith, no businessman, failed financially, and at the end of the winter season he sold his dream hotel to Flagler for $325,000. Flagler renamed it the Cordova. The hotel thrived for several years, and then began a decline. In 1900 it was con-verted into an apartment house, and by the 1920's a low-budget hotel was created. The final blow came in 1932 when the depres-sion forced its closing, and except for the small shops, the hotel re-mained idle for almost 30 years. In 1962 it became the St. Johns County Courthouse, used until the county built a new one, and the old Casa Monica was once more on the market. In 1997,  it was sold to The Kessler Enterprise, Inc. Grand Theme Hotels. The restoration was soon underway with careful attention to the details of the original Casa Monica. The result, opened two years later, is as President and CEO Richard Kessler said, a restoration “to the charm, feeling and elegance of the original hotel and the period."
Sikes-Kline, Regan Home Rule Heroes City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline and City Manager John Regan are recipients of the Florida League of Cities’ 2018 Home Rule Hero Awards. They are among 89 city officials from across the state recognized for their “tireless efforts to advance the League’s legislative agenda and help protect the Home Rule powers of Florida’s cities during the 2018 legislative session,” according to the FLC. During the legislative session, Sikes-Kline and Regan met with members of the Senate and House of Representatives and governmental agency staff during several trips to Tallahassee seeking support for the legislative priorities identified by the City Commission.
Lysistrata is vintage (411 BC) comedy Make love or war … CHOOSE!! Aristophanes gave the thought voice and sight over 2,000 years ago in Lysistrata, a bawdy comedy celebrating the power of women and a condemnation of war. A Classic Theatre (ACT) brings to the stage Friday Sunday, May 11 - 13, “Lysistrata, the heroine who convinces women from Athens and neighboring Sparta to join forces - thus creating what can be called the very first women’s movement!,” ACT says. “Life being what it is, the play shines a light on the comedy of politics, power, lust and greed.  Sound familiar?” This version has connections to St. Augustine. Constantine Santas, Professor Emeritis of Flagler College and author, has edited this version, which was translated by his aunt, Valentina Santas. Lysistrata will be at the Gamache-Koger Theater in the Ringhaver Student Center on Sevilla Street on at 7:30 Friday and Saturday, May 11-12, and 2 pm Sunday May 13. Tickets $20 at www.aclassictheatre.org. For reservations call Jan at 904-501-5093
Opioid crisis impact on city to be detailed Police Chief Barry Fox will report to city commissioners Monday on the impact of the opioid crisis on the city. Two weeks ago both Fox and Fire Chief Carlos Aviles had limited information on calls and Narcan use to reverse overdoses, and Mayor Nancy Shaver asked for “something more detailed and comprehensive that includes data from the hospital, data from the county ...” During that discussion, Chief Fox told commissioners city police “have 3 to 5 a month, but the county has a much bigger problem.” Fire Chief Aviles said his department is mapping with the county, with “180-185 Narcan uses last year and about 35 so far this year.” City Attorney Isabelle Lopez initiated the opioid discussion, suggesting to commissioners the possibility of the city joining in a national effort to hold drug manufacturers accountable for the explosion of opioid abuse and overdoses.
City carriage fees may be increased City commissioners Monday will consider a franchise fee increase from 2.5% to 3% for horse and carriage tour businesses. The discussion will include a public hearing. It would be the first increase since franchise agreements were initiated in 2011, says city Finance Director Mark Litzinger. “There was an option to increase the fees on the fourth anniversary and every third anniversary thereafter,” Litzinger says. “We chose not to increase the fees at the fourth anniversary in 2015, so this would be the first increase.” ‘Freeboard’ elevation boost goes to commission Monday An ordinance raising building height measurement one foot goes before commissioners Monday “The current definition measures building height for buildings in flood zones starting from the Base Flood Elevation, which is established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),” says Planning and Building Director David Birchim.  “The proposed change will measure the building height for buildings in flood zones starting from one (1) foot above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE), because the State of Florida has amended the State Building Code to require new buildings in flood zones to elevate their finished floor one foot above the BFE. “In building code terminology, this is called a one foot ‘freeboard’ requirement,” Birchim explains. Plaza Concerts to open 28th season Free Thursday night Concerts in the Plaza begin May 31. The series includes 14 weeks of two-hour concerts held every Thursday in the Gazebo in the Plaza de la Constitución starting at 7 pm through August 30. Visit www.CityStAug.com/Concerts 
Hearing, commission action Monday for $984,000 in drainage projects City commissioners Monday will consider a series of resolutions for flood mitigation projects, with $602,716 in state funds and $381,308 in matching city funds. The resolutions will include a public hearing. The regular commission meeting begins at 5 pm in the Alcazar Room at City Hall and is live streamed on CoSA.TV. The state monies would come through an Emergency Set-Aside Small Cities Community Development Block Grant and the city funds from its water and sewer enterprise funding. The two priority drainage systems: Sanitary sewer line system and stormwater drainage system replacement, including roadway reconstruction, in the Duero Street Service Area, which extends along Duero Street between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue on the west and Blanco Street on the east. Water line system, sanitary sewer line system and stormwater drainage system replacement, including roadway reconstruction, in the Cerro Street Service Area, which extends along Cerro Street between Riberia Street on the west and Oneida Street on the east.