In our bustling little city, there’s always something going on. We have shows and festivals, concerts and events. But if you want to stay in the know about what’s going on in the City Government of St. Augustine, you’ve come to the right place. This regular roundup will give you a quick overview of the local government happenings – from planning and zoning decisions to awards to meetings to construction or testing that might affect your daily life. This is what we know – so now you know too.
City’s Fire Department Achieves Highest Classification
Periodically, the Insurance Services Office (ISO), a near-universally recognized authority on risk management, audits fire departments and issues each one a Public Protection Classification (PPC) stated in a range of 1 to 10. A Class 1 rating, the highest, indicates that “superior property fire protection” has been proven, and a Class 10 rating indicates that the minimum criteria set by the ISO have not been met.
Chief Aviles will announce that the St. Augustine Fire Department (SAFD) now has the designation of Class 1. “The audit required the compiling of an enormous amount of data and of every aspect of the department’s work,” said Chief Aviles. “In the end, all that information that showed what we do and how we serve the community met the highest standards set by the ISO and earned the department top PPC classification.”
Of the more than 45,000 fire departments evaluated by ISO, only 329 are Class 1. That places the SAFD in the top .8%. Fire departments are audited every five years. “The ISO rating is used in residential and commercial property premium calculations,” says City Manager John Regan. “The better the ISO rating, the lower the insurance premiums. This Class 1 rating means our city’s fire department meets the highest level of performance standards to mitigate property damage and save human lives in catastrophic emergencies, and we are all the beneficiaries.”
Mobility Improvement Initiatives Realized in Lighthouse Park
This week, the city’s Public Works Department installed a speed cushion on Anastasia Park Drive. in response to residents’ concern over speeding cars on the street. In 2017, during a series of city-wide neighborhood walks and discussions, Lighthouse Park residents met with Reuben Franklin, the city’s Mobility Program Manager, and shared concerns such as increased boat trailer traffic, cut-through traffic, and in particular speeding cars on Anastasia Park Drive. After a traffic study was conducted, it was determined that the installation of a speed cushion could help reduce the speed at which cars are traveling on the road.
In August, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) installed a wayfinding sign on Anastasia Blvd. (A1A) near White St. directing south-bound drivers not to turn left there, but to continue on A1A to the intersection at Red Cox Rd., in order to reach the St. Augustine Lighthouse. This wayfinding sign is intended to deter drivers from entering the residential neighborhood at White St., and instead to access the Lighthouse at the main road entry.
“While it may seem insignificant, both the speed cushion and wayfinding solutions are significant improvements to managing traffic and mitigating non-resident vehicular activity in Lighthouse Park,” said Franklin. “These small victories add-up in the long run to making a difference in the quality of life for our residents, and that’s what is most important.”
Also, starting Monday, September 10, parking on Magnolia Dr. between R.B. Hunt Elementary School and Dancy St. will be prohibited during drop-off and pick-up times, before and after school, to ensure proper use of the designated drop-off and pick-up lanes at the school. Prohibited parking will be enforced, Monday through Friday in the morning between the hours of 7:30am and 9am, and in the afternoon between the hours of 1:30pm and 3:30pm.
Community Provides Input on Future Uses of the Waterworks Building
Over 350 respondents heeded a call by the City of St. Augustine when the community was asked to provide input through an online survey on the preferred use of the Waterworks Building according to a report presented to the city commission during its regular meeting on Monday, September 10. Respondents, nearly 64% which are St. Augustine residents, were asked which of six types of community venues would draw them to the Waterworks, and which of four commercial ventures might they envision for the historical structure. The respondents favored a coffee shop or community arts and exhibit facility.
The survey questions grew out of an open house held at the Waterworks Building in late May. Information with the survey called attention to certain characteristics that would have to be considered regardless of the use, including limited parking, all external renovations would have to be approved by the city, and the facility itself is subject to various historic preservation restrictions by both the State of Florida and the city. View the full survey results by visiting here.
Crime Index is Lowest in Over a Decade
When St. Augustine Police Chief Barry Fox offered his semi-annual report on crime statistics to the City Commission during its meeting on Monday, his message was that the police department continues to build on its 19.3% drop in crime in 2017 by posting a 10% decrease in crime during the first six months of 2018 over the same period just a year ago.
The Uniform Crime Report (UCR) includes statistics of crimes in seven categories broken down into two primary groups, property crimes, and violent crimes. Burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft are property crimes, and murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault are considered violent crimes.
According to the UCR report, crime has dropped in almost every category and for some categories, the drop was substantial. In the last six months, the number of aggravated assaults dropped from 40 to 25, and burglaries from 52 to 34. These are the least reported crimes in those categories in the last 10 years.
Chief Fox says the overall positive report is the result of a combination of factors. “Certainly, the SAPD is always vigilant, always watchful over the community and are quick to respond when needed,” said Fox. “But public education is a very important part of crime prevention and reminding the community that its police department is always on duty.”
Historic Preservation Master Plan Updates Now Available for Review Online
The revised draft for the Historic Preservation Master Plan is available online and includes two documents: the 2018 Historic Preservation Master Plan, and a Historic Preservation Master Plan Supplement. The revised plan is in response to the public and board member comments submitted during meetings held in 2017 and will be presented to the Historic Architectural Review Board (HARB) on September 20, at 1pm, and to the Planning and Zoning Board (PZB) on October 2 at 2pm. Both meetings will be held in The Alcazar Room of City Hall and are open to the public. The meetings will be streaming live online at www.CityStAugTV.com or on-demand the day following the meeting.
The supplement document is a reference guide that provides context for the process that led to the plan’s recommendations.
Public Comments Welcome for King Street Design Standards
For several weeks the Planning and Building Department has asked for public input in an online survey seeking the community’s comments and feedback on the update to design standards for King Street. The area being discussed stretches from King St.’s intersection with Ponce de Leon Blvd. east to Granada St. and west to the railroad crossing and the city limits on W. King St. This encompasses the length of King St. from Flagler College to the west city limits.
The entry corridor guidelines are concerned only with the appearance of the private property along King St. They do not impact the right-of-way or sidewalks, are not related to any mobility planning issues, and will not manage or change traffic patterns.
Take the survey online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/KingStreetEC. Comments may be submitted via email to the consultant coordinator, Jeremy Marquis at [email protected], or the project’s planner, Amy Skinner at [email protected]