February 14 2018
Published by former Mayor George Gardner The Report is an independent publication serving our community Contributions are appreciated
Inauguration of college president A week of community-focused events February17-24 will herald the inauguration of Dr. Joseph G. Joyner as the fourth president of Flagler College. A week celebrating “Citizenship in a Diverse Democracy” will lead up to Joyner’s invitation-only inauguration ceremony on Saturday, February 24 in Lewis Auditorium. The ceremony will be streamed online at www.flagler.edu/inauguration. Joyner was Superintendent of Schools for the St. Johns County School District for 14 years. Under Joyner’s leadership the School District was highest achieving of Florida’s 67 school districts for the past 8 years. Find complete details on the inauguration week here.
History’s highlight Architecture of bygone era The architecture heralded today by Architectural Digest in selecting St. Augustine as one of The 25 Best Small Towns in America reflected the affluence of a bygone age – and a new standard for construction. A century ago, visitors to our nation’s oldest city found far different accommodations – enormous wooden hotels long since claimed by termites, fire, and the first phases of modern construction, “the adoption of a concrete building material, which means substantial and absolutely fire-proof buildings,” according to the 1892 Standard Guide St. Augustine. The Guide was published by E.H. Reynolds of St. Augustine and New York, and reproduced today by Historic Map & Print Co. www.historicprint.com  Hotels like the St. George, Magnolia, Barcelona, Valencia, and Florida House (pictured) have long since yielded to the elements, while the Ponce de Leon, Alcazar, and Cordova – today’s Casa Monica, survived with concrete construction. “Four agencies have contributed to the rapid development of the city as a winter resort,” the Guide noted. “First - Improved transportation facilities, providing easy access from the North. The railway time from New York has been reduced to thirty-six hours, through from New York to St. Augustine without change. “Second - The discovery of an artesian water supply. The wells have a constant flow sufficient for every domestic and public purpose, and the abundant water has had its part in beautifying the town. Third - The adoption of a concrete building material, which means substantial and absolutely fire-proof buildings. “Fourth - The lavish expenditure of princely capital in the construction of magnificent hotels for the entertainment of thousands of guests.” While the older wooden hotels advertised “perfect sanitary arrangements,” and catering “to people of culture and refinement who appreciate quiet, comfort, and good living,” the much touted Ponce de Leon with companion Alcazar and Cordova hotels advertised simply: “So much has been written about St. Augustine, Florida, with its incomparable winter climate, and of the magnificent Ponce de Leon Hotel, with its every luxurious appointment, that the management feel that the simple announcement that the Ponce de Leon, Alcazar and Cordova will be thrown open for the reception of guests about the 1st day of January, 1891, will be quite sufficient.”
North city intersection project now under way Construction of the new intersection configuration is under way at San Marco Avenue and May Street, where long queues have frustrated motorists heading into the city or to US 1 from Vilano and the north beaches. Land has been cleared on the former proposed 7-Eleven site, purchased by the city to end that threat, then sold to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for the project. Also cleared, land across May Street, site of Sports Corner demolished years ago as FDOT configured the present design. Both cleared areas will become part of the elongated traffic roundabout designed to move traffic more efficiently. With additional Main Library parking now in place behind the library, crews are working to create two library accesses off US 1. The current West San Carlos access will be removed as that street is widened to create a dedicated left turn lane onto US 1. The intersection project is scheduled for completion in summer 2019. Petticoat- Schmitt Civil Contractors Inc. of Jacksonville is the contractor for the $9.2 million project.
Cutting edge technology for city’s history For early St. Augustinians it wasn’t complicated. You built with what was available. For the University of Florida’s Preservation Institute St. Augustine, it’s a bit more complicated - to do “basic materials analysis like paint chromo-chronologies, mortar and plaster analysis, wood identification, etc.” Modeling a program after its highly successful Preservation Institute Nantucket, UF plans a lab at the former Government House here, renamed Governor’s House Cultural Center and Museum. Here the university will study materials used in the city’s historic structures and how to better preserve them. “We’ll be applying ... cutting-edge technologies to St. Augustine,” program director Marty Hylton says, including laser scanning and other digital technologies. It’s one of the programs developed by the university since taking over management of some 34 state-owned historic properties here in 2007.
City initiatives answer hurricane wake up calls City commissioners Monday endorsed city initiatives to shore up our coastal community against recurrences of hurricanes Matthew and Irma – two strikes within a year. As commissioners approved $261,912 from stormwater reserves as a local match for one phase, City Manager John Regan told them the proposed downtown hazard mitigation project “is an $11.5 million project for which we have obtained $8.6 million in FEMA funding. … We are seeking the balance of the $2.875 million local match through additional grants. “The level of grant opportunity in front of us is a result of Hurricane Matthew,” he said. “The last project we did as a hazard mitigation grant was the seawall.” The city will provide $25,000 for a professional panel to study and prepare “a very succinct document” on the city’s wastewater treatment plant, “one of the most vulnerable and most costly assets,” Public Works Director Martha Graham told commissioners. The panel is part of an Urban Land Institute program, funded by the Kresge Foundation. Commissioners had previously approved $3.5 million in repairs to the Municipal Marina to protect it from a Category 2 hurricane, but city staff presented comparisons with other storm categories and General Services Director Jim Piggott noted that no taxpayer dollars will be spent on the project, but rather Municipal Marina income and reserves. 
Standards aren’t standard for St. Augustine parking City commissioners Monday passed an ordinance to provide "controlled parking residential areas," but not before some adjustments to the industry standard for parking spaces. Mark Resos of 54 Osceola Street in the Abbott Tract told commissioners tight parking along his street forces vehicles into smaller spaces than the 20 foot industry standard. The ordinance language was changed to legal parking spaces “as reasonably determined by city staff.” Resos also asked, “What is a peak period?” – one of the defining elements to control visitor parking in residential neighborhoods. “Peak periods will be different for different neighborhoods,” said Mobility Manager Reuben Franklin, who designed the ordinance. “We’re asking residents to tell us when they’re having problems.” Franklin noted the current hang tag system will be phased out “when we get our license plate recognition system in. You’ll have an online portal for your permit.”
Quotable St. Augustine’s architecture, most of it, speaks to the needs of the people that lived at the time it was created. When St. Augustine became more affluent, then the architecture begins to speak to the desires and dreams of people. And it’s a way of representing their success. Architecture is basically a language of the times. Local contractor John Valdez commenting on Architectural Digest selecting St. Augustine as one of The 25 Best Small Towns in America.
City’s auditors to be audited The auditors charged with auditing the city’s finances will now be audited by an audit committee. Vice Mayor Todd Neville and city Budget Director Meredith Breidenstein, both certified public accountants, and city Mobility Director Reuben Franklin make up the committee “to provide more independence in the city’s annual financial reviews.” Officials say. Neville suggested the oversight committee after noting the same auditor has been contracted for more than 30 years with five-year terms. The committee will meet Friday at the city’s Financial Services Office on Bridge Street. The final audit report for last fiscal year goes to the City Commission by March 15.