Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Madeira Beach debates size, scope of city hall projects

MADEIRA BEACH — Despite a continuing split among residents, the City Commission is poised to move decisively ahead in building a new city hall, fire station and possibly a new recreation complex.

A clear majority of residents who packed a town hall meeting on Tuesday agreed that the present city hall, erected in the 1950s, badly needs replacing.

But there remained clear disagreement over the size and design elements of the new building — particularly when the city has many other infrastructure projects in its planning cue while it considers spending a projected $5 million to $9 million to replace aging government facilities.

"I would like to see this put up for referendum," resident Peter Pisciotta said, while asking the city to do more due diligence in reviewing all options before spending millions on a new city hall complex.

There appeared to be little interest in the audience or on the commission for holding a referendum.

Commissioner Terry Lister insisted that after the commission "did its homework" it was determined that repairing the old city hall and fire station would be prohibitively expensive.

Mayor Travis Palladeno said the commission will decide the scope of the project at its April 9 meeting, when commissioners also expected to hire a bond counsel and sign a new contract with the architect and building contractor.

The project is divided into two phases — one the city hall and fire station complex, and the other the recreation complex. The phases could run simultaneously or separately over time.

Although the total bill would be higher doing the entire project at once, contractor Mark Stalker told commissioners they would save significantly by building at today's prices.

Many residents supported building both phases at once.

"Build the city hall, fix the ball field, make a nice recreation center," said Robin Stack. "Act like commissioners. Do your job and make a decision."

"We need a city hall for everybody. Let's just get it done and stop the talk," echoed Diane Ray.

"I encourage you to think about all our children who want to play and be a part of our community," said Dan Griffin, vice president of Madeira Beach Little League.

"Should we put money into recreation fields for the kids? Damned straight we should," former Commissioner Steve Kochick said to loud applause. Some residents, however, were strongly against spending the additional $4 million for a new recreation complex.

"While a new city hall and fire hall is in order, I am against any redoing of the recreation fields," said Debbie Weinstein.

Former Mayor Marv Merrill described the recreation phase as an unneeded "luxury" and called the conceptual city hall plans an unnecessary Taj Mahal.

City Manager Shane Crawford said the new city hall would occupy less square footage than the present one. "We are trying to make do with the least amount of building as possible."

Jeff Larson, the city's financial consultant, explained that the city has reserve funds to help pay for a new city hall, as well as nonproperty tax revenue streams that can pay off a bank loan or bond.

"The city is in very good financial condition and no debt," he said. "That tells you your elected officials and staff have been good stewards of your money."

The city is considering pledging $300,000 in annual revenue to guarantee and pay for a long term bond.

Other revenue will still be available to cover yet unknown costs of street repaving, stormwater upgrades, marina expansion, upgrades to Archibald Park and burying utilities along Gulf Boulevard.

"There is no plan to do this project (city hall) in place of other projects," city finance director Vince Tenaglia added.

For the project designers, the meeting was a step forward.

"We are very excited to stop kicking the can down the road and start moving forward again," said Lisa Wannemacher of Wannemacher Jensen Architects.

Madeira Beach debates size, scope of city hall projects 03/30/13 [Last modified: Saturday, March 30, 2013 8:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees


    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact


    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show


    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.