GULFPORT — The city has cut out the middleman when it comes to issues of development — economic and waterfront.
The City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to disband the Economic Development Advisory Committee and the Waterfront Redevelopment Advisory Board.
So now, instead of ideas getting vetted by council-appointed resident panels, ideas will be brought directly to the council.
For some time, it has been hard to find and retain panel members.
The issue came to a head in August when council member Sam Henderson reported that both of his appointments to the economic advisory board quit because they felt it wasn't accomplishing anything.
He told the council he did not want to appoint anyone else under those circumstances.
Fred Metcalf, the city's community development director, said the boards were formed to comply with Florida statutes requiring such oversight when a city is going through redevelopment.
They accomplished that objective, Metcalf said, but the things the economic board is now discussing are the same things the administrative staff is discussing.
"City Council is the ultimate decisionmaking body," City Manager Jim O'Reilly said. "The others are just advisory boards.
"The committees were developed in the 1990s when the city was taking another tack," he said.
While it may seem the move may curb residents' contributing input on the direction the city is taking, Mayor Mike Yakes said the opposite will likely happen.
"We will create better community involvement if anyone and everyone can come before council," he said.
The vote came after a rare instance in which not one resident addressed the council on the issue.