By Dale Martin, City Manager
Included in this year’s budget are several capital projects. Here is a report on the status of those projects.
The most significant project is the construction of the new fire station located on Airport Road just off Amelia Island Parkway. The facility will include living quarters appropriate for the growing diversity of the city’s firefighter personnel, classroom space, bays for equipment and a training tower. The facility will be designated as Fire Station 2. The disposition of the current facility so designated near Seaside Park has yet to be determined: Fire Department administrative offices, Ocean Rescue headquarters, redevelopment, or sale are options for the City Commission to consider. Construction is scheduled to be completed in mid to late May and the project remains under the budget approved by the City Commission for the facility.
The Peck Center, located at 516 S. 10th St., has been substantially renovated over the past several years. The replacement of the windows in this historic building has been completed. Several new doors have been installed. The effort this year focused on the “re-pointing” of the building: replacing bricks and mortar that have deteriorated. Most of the work has been completed and the success of this rehabilitation effort is obvious: the building is beautiful. The Peck Center houses several city departments, but a real jewel of the facility is an Amelia Island Museum of History Exhibit, describing the heritage of the Peck Center (a Rosenwald School built in 1927) and its importance to the community. The display is located just inside the main entrance on the south (parking lot) side of the building.
The city’s annual street resurfacing efforts will begin shortly. Based upon a previous analysis of city streets and recommendations to maintain the current quality of the streets, the City Commission has budgeted approximately $800,000 for street maintenance. Mr. Jeremiah Glisson, Public Works (Operations) Director, has prepared a long-range maintenance plan to appropriately prioritize the street effort. A list of the streets to be resurfaced this year will be presented to the community through the city’s website and social media pages.
The railroad safety projects along Front Street have nearly been completed. New curbs and a designated commercial loading zone have been constructed. Some new signals have been installed at Ash Street and Centre Street, but the last signals will likely not be installed until late May or early June. The fence along the railroad tracks has been installed. The survey and easement for the proposed sidewalk extending north to Alachua Street from the existing sidewalk on the east side of the railroad tracks have been completed, but construction will likely not occur until the construction and re-opening of the Alachua Street crossing have been completed later this calendar year.
The contractor for the Alachua Street project is scheduled to mobilize equipment to the site next month. The project entails the construction of an underground stormwater collection and treatment system to which area properties will be permitted to purchase “stormwater capacity” instead of requiring such treatment on each site. Once the stormwater improvements are completed, construction of the road, including sidewalks and streetscape, will begin. The Alachua Street crossing will provide for better traffic circulation (both vehicular and pedestrian) and support the economic redevelopment of several properties within the area of North Front Street, Alachua Street, and North Second Street.
A similar stormwater project for Ash Street, from South Front Street to Eighth Street, is currently seeking bids for design and permitting efforts. Another stormwater project, relining of pipes, will begin next month – the affected pipes have been inspected and cleaned in preparation for the relining.
The city’s vehicles scheduled for purchase this year have all been ordered. Vehicle efforts have been a significant challenge based on the lack of availability and increased demand. Some makes and models of vehicles that the city has traditionally relied upon are not as readily available. The new fuel tank at the Public Works garage has been replaced.
Structural assessments for several city facilities will begin shortly: the Atlantic Recreation Canter, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center, and the lighthouse. When the assessments are completed on those facilities, it will then be possible to determine the appropriate course of action for the long-term maintenance and rehabilitation of those structures.
Several projects associated with the water and wastewater systems continue. Often relatively unnoticed, these efforts keep the city’s critical infrastructure functional. Water meters are being replaced, manholes are being rehabilitated, water/sewer lines are being extended, and maintenance of the treatment facilities are ongoing.
Finally, thanks to the generous donation of Ms. Betty Berkman, the city will dedicate the Teddy Bear Playground in honor of her late husband, Mr. David Berkman. The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. this Sunday, Feb. 5. Children (and their families) are invited to come to Central Park for the ceremony, which will feature the Emma Love Youth Choir. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.