Within the realm of making lemonade, Port St. Joe commissioners made it the most palatable they could last week.
With an approaching deadline constraining the use of road bond money for the board’s top priority, commissioners during a special meeting set sights a tad less bold, but which will mean Reid Ave. will get a complete makeover.
The board voted unanimously to use just shy of $1 million in road bond funds to pave Reid Ave. from First to Sixth Streets, Long Ave. from 18th Street to Madison Ave. and Baltzell Ave. and Third Street as the big ticket items.
The money will also be used to patch a section of Avenue G and repave Eighth Street from Marvin Ave. to the stormwater ditch that runs adjacent to the 10th Street ball parks.
“I like what’s been laid out,” said Commissioner Rex Buzzett. “But I want to make sure the board keeps Long Ave. as the top priority.”
The board had hoped to use its percentage from the latest road bond issue by the Board of County Commissioners, Series 2015, to completely overhaul Long Ave., one of the city’s main arteries.
The hope was to leverage the bond money with a loan/grant package from the State Revolving Fund to replace aging water and sewer lines and repave the road.
Commissioners have been reluctant to consider the road work given the extent of the needed work below the road surface.
“We want to tear the road up all at once,” said city manager Jim Anderson. “The staff recommendation is to wait on the Long Ave. water line until finding is secured for the sewer line as well.”
However, the county has relayed from bond counsel the message that the road bond funding must be encumbered by the end of this month and the city was nowhere near putting together the pieces for the entire Long Ave. project.
Instead, as one of the projects approved last week, a section of Long from 18th to Madison, where underground lines have already been replaced, will be paved.
Among the list of projects to be considered last week was one for materials, bores and patches along sections of Long, but the board decided to eliminate that project from consideration to remain under budget on the road bond funds.
The city has an application submitted to the SRF aimed at facilitating the Long Ave. work: a decision will be forthcoming later this year.
The projects approved last week include one by which the city will receive back $200,000 in two years.
To facilitate the paving of Reid Ave., the Commission is loaning the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency $200,000 to undertake the work.
The loan, two years, zero interest, will return that $200,000 to the city.
Commissioner David Ashbrook questioned the wisdom of paving of a section of Eighth Street, a road marked by indentations and profoundly sloping from crown to roadside grass.
Commissioners have long lamented the condition of the road, but the area is also part of consideration of a plan to renovate the 10th Street recreational complex.
Buzzett said under current plans, Eighth Street would likely not be closed, as was initially debated, and said the work could go forward as it would now blend with the renovation of the park.
“I think we do Eighth Street with anticipation of what’s coming with the ball park,” Buzzett said.
The city still has work to do before the June 30 deadline for encumbering the road bond funds, totaling $982,594, including finalizing paperwork, approval from the BOCC and contracts.
The city will use the county’s approved contractor for the work.