January 17 2018
Published by former Mayor George Gardner The Report is an independent publication serving our community Contributions are appreciated
History’s highlight Deep roots in America    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left a lasting impression on the world. But before him were many who would leave their marks on the pages of history.    Juan Garrido, a veteran of the Spanish conquests of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and Cuba, was a member of the Spanish expedition led by Ponce de Leon that discovered Florida in 1513. Juan Garrido was a free black African.    Estevanico was one of the early explorers of the Southwestern United States. Estevanico was a Muslim slave from northern Africa.    American history recalls black Africans kidnapped from their home countries to work as slaves in New World colonies. But much earlier, African-born blacks, free and slave, helped shape the future Americas in Spanish explorations and colony building.    Estevanico, slave of a Spanish nobleman, was with Panfilo de Narvaez in 1528, then explored Florida, Arizona and Mexico. Esteban, a black gun bearer, scout, slave, and soldier, was also with Narvaez. Juan Valiente, a black slave, was a member of numerous expeditions and fought side by side with Spanish soldiers in Guatemala, Peru, and Chile. Other blacks were members of expeditions led by Lucas Vasquez de Allyon and Hernando de Soto.     And the Africans were with Pedro Menendez as he forged a presidio out of the wilderness at St. Augustine.    The first Underground Railroad in America led from north to south, as slaves in the late 1600s fled English-controlled South Carolina to freedom in Spanish Florida.    In 1738 a defense outpost was established north of the St. Augustine settlement. Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose became the first free black community in North America, home to more than 100 former black slaves.    The free black militiamen pledged to "spill their last drop of blood in defense of the Great Crown of Spain and the Holy Faith, and to be the most cruel enemies of the English." In 1740, that militia and Spanish soldados crushed a British assault on Fort Mose.    The Africans were laborers, masons, and metalworkers in the building of the Castillo de San Marcos, and seawalls, bridges, and other public buildings. They were artisans, craftsmen, and merchants in the settlement of St. Augustine and rancheros and farmers supplying its food in the vast area around it.    Africans would continue to be recognized, as both war leaders and interpreters for the Seminoles in the 1800s War of Removal with expanding America, creation of a thriving community in Lincolnville after the Civil War, and as foot soldiers in the St. Augustine civil rights movement that led to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.      Image: Explorer Estevanico,  https://phoenixexplorer.weebly.com/estevanico.html     Excerpt from 'The Africans,' in St. Augustine Bedtime Stories. Click for further information on this fascinating historic series.
Parking facility hosts 406,418 cars in 2017 The Visitor Center parking facility hosted 406,418 vehicles in 2017, with December the busiest month at 53,757 vehicles. March, April and July each handled more than 40,000 vehicles to make these, with December, the busiest months of the year. September was the slowest, with fewer than 19,000 cars. Parking fees at the facility have gone from hourly to $10 all day parking only, then $12 and now $15. The charge for ParkNow cardholders is $3. Since it opened on July 1, 2006, a total of 3,923,696 vehicles have parked in the facility.
Public Works Director retiring Martha Graham, Director of Public Works for the past ten years, has announced her retirement effective March 30. “Martha has been a tremendous asset to Team St. Augustine,” says City Manager John Regan. “Her time here is marked by some of the largest public works projects in many years, ones that will serve our city for many, many years to come.” Major projects under Graham included the Riberia Street Rehabilitation project, the Downtown Improvement District project, the Avenida Menendez Seawall project, the Davis Shores Tide Check Valve project, and the replacement of aging water systems throughout the city to eliminate red water.
Checking Davis Shores overflows    Tide Check Valve installation included in ribbon cutting Blocking the water miseries in Davis Shores is a big enough feat for a ribbon cutting, so Tuesday, January 16, at 2 pm a ribbon was separated at the intersection of Coquina Avenue and Menendez Road, and one of the giant tide check valves was installed. It was in an area of Davis Shores which has experienced some of the area's worst tidal flooding recently, city public works officials say. Nine of the big units were installed by the end of December in Davis Shores stormwater outfalls, with nine more coming this month. The St. Johns River Water Management District is assisting the city effort with a third of the $591,000 cost. The tide check valves won’t stop hurricane flooding, but can hold back tidal waters like those “king tides” recently experienced on city streets. To learn more about this project and to see a video illustrating how the check valves work, see story here.
State of the Art Grants Awarded   Six cultural programs have won State of the Art grants from St. Johns Cultural Council.   St. Augustine Film Society, in partnership with Compassionate St. Augustine and the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida, will sponsor "Found in Translation," a series of foreign films for underserved youth audiences at various venues in St. Johns County. Friends of the Corazon, Inc. received a grant to collaborate with the St. Johns County Public Library System and the Florida Heritage Book Festival in a project called "Read a Film," featuring a guided reading, viewing and discussion of a book and its film adaption. The movies and literature will have ties to Florida authors, filmmakers or subjects.  A Classic Theatre, Inc. received funding for "The Mother Line Story Project" to collect, develop and produce plays based upon the lives and wisdom of local women. They will present one free public performance.  Heather Hagy, "The Future of Art in St. Augustine," a project based at Sebastian Middle School, to teach plein air painting to students who may grow up to be the future artists in and around St. Augustine.  Juli Wald and the Friends of the St. Johns County Southeast Branch Library to provide free stained glass workshops for the public.  Nancy Christensen and St. Johns County-based Artists Cultural Education  for an after-school arts enrichment program at St. Lukes AME Church. Community visual and performing artists lead weekly arts activities for students. The arts component is a complement to homework assistance and academic support provided in the Kidz Safe Zone. Applications for the SOTA grants are reviewed and projects are funded twice a year, in April and October. Applications and grant guidelines are available at www.stjohnsculture.com. Projects and activities that occur in St. Johns County and serve at-risk and underserved communities, arts education and development and art in public places receive priority for funding. The next cycle of funding will be in April 2018.
180 guest event venue planned for north city Mixed emotions are greeting plans for a 140-180 guest two story event venue on north San Marco Avenue at Court Theophilia, opposite DOS Coffee & Wine. Those plans go before the city’s Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) tomorrow, January 18, at 1 pm in the Alcazar Room at City Hall. The Hardy Group will seek approval to demolish the existing U-Haul building and a review of the design for what it describes as “a Mission Style, two-story, commercial building ... and we believe it will give a new landmark once entering into the San Marco Entry Corridor.” Facebook’s Greater Fullerwood Neighborhood page came alive with comments and calls to attend that HARB meeting. “Parking, noise, and increased flooding should be of concern. But is this really an appropriate venue for the location?” wrote one neighbor. Within walking distance along north San Marco are the recently opened 150 capacity Parlor Room behind DOS, long standing is the Pioneer Barn at Fort Menendez, and race car driver Scott Lagasse’s Team SLR is building a complex to include offices and garage facilities for the racing operation and possibly a transportation museum. Another writer commented, the site “has, and will continue to have, 19 parking spaces. (The Hardy Group said) each car is projected to contain four people, so only 45 parking spaces are required. Even accepting the ludicrous idea that every car will contain four people, this is still less than half as many parking places as needed.” Parking and flooding will be addressed in future Planning and Zoning Board meetings; HARB will be looking at the building design’s compatibility with the city’s Entry Corridor Design Guidelines.
City manager discusses years past and current City Manager John Regan recalled Hurricane Irma, the city’s mobility program, panhandling, and the Confederate Monument in 2017, and panhandling issues, mobility projects, a committee to add context to the Confederate Monument, and ongoing water system and stormwater improvements in 2018 on the weekly public affairs program, The Break Room. The interview with Public Affairs Director Paul Williamson can be heard here.
Inconvenient Sequel  will repeat at Corazon Following a recent showing of An Inconvenient Sequel, Truth to Power attended by 100, the follow-up documentary on progress tackling the problem of climate change since Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth will be repeated Saturday, January 27, at noon and 6 pm at Corazon Cinema & Café on Granada Street. The showings are hosted by Gina Burrell, a life member of Sierra Club. A donation of $5 is suggested. The 2017 sequel to An Inconvenient Truth (2006) addresses progress made to tackle the problem and the former vice president’s continuing global efforts to persuade governmental leaders to invest in renewable energy. Gore’s initial efforts culminated in the landmark signing of the Paris Agreement in 2016.  The sequel was released on July 28, 2017, by Paramount Pictures, and grossed over $5 million worldwide. It received a nomination for Best Documentary at the 71st British Academy Film Awards.