Clearwater's new homeless shelter, under construction now in downtown, just got a $24,000 break.
The City Commission agreed to donate the money to the Clearwater Homeless Intervention Project to offset city and county impact and permit fees associated with building the 48-bed shelter on Park Street.
The Clearwater Housing Authority, a founding member of the homeless project, gave the money to the city this year and requested it be donated to the shelter.
The 8,000-square-foot shelter will be attached to the St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen and include a police substation for six officers and 48 beds _ 33 for men, nine for women and six for families. The shelter will focus on intervention programs, such as helping the homeless find a place to live and a job.
The shelter, expected to be completed by the end of the year, is being built with about $650,000 in city and county grants and $90,000 in private donations. Officials estimate it will cost $319,000 to operate each year.
Land development code
Nearly a year ago, cutting the city's 320-page land development code in half was deemed such an important task that it was put on the fast track. The job was to be finished by this spring.
But after the new city manager, Mike Roberto, arrived here this summer, the time, cost and scope of the project changed.
Roberto wants to hire a law firm to completely revamp the code, have it better address redevelopment and include the City Commission's vision. A draft is expected to be complete by February, and the code will be complete in nine months.
The city will pay Siemon, Larsen & Marsh law firm $234,500 to re-write the code. Officials estimate city employees already have spent $100,000 worth of time and resources on the project.
The code describes how contractors can build anything from a backyard fence to a high-rise office tower. It also includes the zoning ordinances, the sign ordinance and subdivision regulations.
It has been 12 years since the code was revamped, and the hundreds of amendments since then have made figuring out the latest rules a challenge.
The City Commission approved an agreement to sell about $15,000 worth of weight-lifting equipment to Ervin's All America Youth Club for $3,000.
The weights and exercise machines belonged to the Gym at Clearwater Beach before it closed, defaulting on a $35,000 loan from the city.
The city put the equipment in storage and has paid $200 a month for the past 10 months to keep it there. City officials say selling it to the youth club will end those payments, help the city recoup some of its loss and give the North Greenwood community what it has been asking for.
The youth club was the only organization to bid on the equipment, mostly because the city requested bids only from non-profit groups that serve the North Greenwood area.
The Gym at Clearwater Beach is one of several businesses that have received loans from the city through a federally funded program designed to help small businesses.
Starting next year, residents will no longer be able to pick up calendars of events at the city's libraries or recreation centers.
Instead, each household will receive a copy of Clearwater magazine, which will contain those schedules and much more. The magazine will include articles about city news, neighborhood highlights and information on downtown. It will also include a tear-out calendar of upcoming events and a page of statistics, historical information and photos.
The magazine, modeled after a similar publication in Anaheim, Calif., will be published four times year.
Sixty thousand copies of each issue will be printed. Copies will be placed in libraries, recreation centers and other locations around the city and will be given to people planning to relocate business here.
Currently, individual departments publish schedules and send them to people who use their services. Jeff Harper, information management director, said the information may not be getting out to people who don't participate in city programs.
"The city needs to be and is becoming more pro-active in getting out our message," Harper wrote in a memo to City Manager Mike Roberto. "Clearwater magazine will go a long way to define Clearwater."
City officials estimate the magazine will cost $107,000 to print, $61,000 to mail and $14,000 for staff. It will be partly funded by money that will no longer be spent on printing publications for individual departments.
_ Compiled by Anita Kumar