April Council – A New Mayor and a Proposed Roof Over Veteran’s Plaza

New Council Sworn-in

New Mayor
Bert Premuroso

The first Council meeting since the March election featured the swearing-in of returning Councilmen Joe Russo and David Levy, and the election of Bert Premuroso as Mayor and Eric Jablin as Vice-Mayor – both chosen unanimously. Mayor-elect Premuroso, first elected in 2008, is a Vice President at SouthTrust Bank, and has been leading the Council as Vice-Mayor since David Levy left the Council to run for County Commission last year. Jablin is a 21 year veteran of the Council and served as Mayor four times before and Vice-Mayor twice.

Veteran’s Plaza

Most of two hours were then dedicated to a discussion of the plans for “artistic shade structures” (functionally a cover for the stage and seating area in Veteran’s Plaza), commissioned by the Art in Public Places (AIPP) board. Two vendors were chosen to bring forth plans, G.H. Bruce, LLC of Tucson, Arizona, and Mark Fuller Functional Arts of West Palm Beach.

Bruce Design

The incoming assumption was that if chosen, a design would be constructed using about $450K from the AIPP funds which originate from impact fees on high end developments (> $1M). These funds are defined by ordinance to be limited to art and culture projects only and contain no ad-valorem tax dollars.

The Bruce design, called “Callinectes” after the indigenous crab family which includes the ubiquitous blue crab and is Greek for “beautiful swimmer”, consists of overlapping canopies floating above a structure of curving steel tubes. Seating under the canopy can be configured to accomodate 250 to 400, depending on arrangement.

Fuller Design

The Fuller design on the other hand is a six sided tent-like structure supported by sweeping tubular steel support pillars with a web-like mesh fabric membrane. Its design accommodates 208 in the theatre seating arrangement or 170 at banquet tables.

Discussion by the Council was mixed.

Joe Russo wondered if something this large would be appropriate for the institutional space that attaches to the City Hall and Police headquarters. “Way too massive”, he said later.

Marcie Tinsley, who describes herself as a believer in “functional art” and supported the controversial bus stop shelters, thought they should move with caution on this one. She has studied the issue in some depth, including checking with other projects like the fairgrounds to ascertain their maintenance costs.

David Levy questioned whether it should be done at all, suggesting that a stage covering like in the Meyer Amphitheatre may be an alternative. He went on to suggest holding a workshop to gather public input.

Eric Jablin, a supporter of the concept, recalled that the “… camel was a horse designed by committee …” suggested that soliciting public input would be like seeking the camel. He further suggested that the Council should not rely on public comment at this meeting since there are supporters out there who did not come to the meeting..

Public comment was actually muted, with only four making comments. Joel Chandler of the PGA Corridor Association was supportive but had some thoughts on the design and decision process. Pat Hughey thought the design “looked great”. Barbara Grossman thought the money would be better spent on veterans. And a Jupiter designer showed a drawing of his own concept for the space.

There are many technical issues to resolve, such as hurricane hardening, drainage, fabric choice, pillar construction, footers and maintenance. Both vendors stated that no engineering work was done in support of the designs and as such a true cost estimate could not be given at this time.

The segment ended with the Council deciding to go off and “think about” the issue and take it up at a later date.

Reminder – April City Council meeting on Thursday, 4/4 at 7pm

The overview agenda can be found here.  The complete agenda is almost 700 pages long and will take awhile to download – but is especially useful for background and understanding.

Brief summary of topics for Thursday:

  • Certifying election results and the return of David Levy to the council
  • Nominations and vote for new mayor (presumed to be Mr. Premuroso)
  • Fiscal Year 2012 audit report (worth reading in the full agenda along with the CAFR – comprehensive annual financial report)
  • Art in Public Places presentation on artwork selected for Veteran’s Plaza

Several public hearings:

  • Signage change in Donald Ross Village
  • Bring Firefighters Pension Fund into compliance with IRS changes
    Changes of status and development master plan and zoning for Gardens Mall/Downtown at the Gardens/Kyoto Gardens area

Board Appointments for Budget Oversight Committee and Firefighters Pension Board

Please plan to attend – it’s your city and the council only meets once per month!