If only the ensuing steps will be as easy.
Port St. Joe city commissioners on Tuesday approved appointing Preble Rish Engineers as the project manager for the move of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse into the city at a location determined during planning for a new bay front park.
Preble Rish is the city’s engineers of record, operating by state statute under a continuing contract.
City attorney Tom Gibson said commissioners could simply add language to that contract to include oversight of the lighthouse relocation.
Commissioners also rescinded a Request for Qualifications for a project manager for the relocation, which was seen as the first step forward in the process.
Mayor Mel Magidson said the engineering firm had offered to act as the project manager. The company would not charge any fees for its role, Magidson said.
“They are local, they are civil engineers, they would not charge,” Magidson said. “This could save the city a good bit of money.”
However, Preble Rish would not be able to fund beyond the basics such as initial engineering, inspection and establishing a timeline and ensuring adherence.
The physical move of the lighthouse would still require funding and bidding for services.
“It would not change the need for expertise in other areas,” Magidson said.
Commissioner Bill Kennedy said he thought the idea a good one, saying that civil engineering – understanding soil, water tables, wetlands, etc. – would serve as a foundation for the relocation in any case.
Some reservations were expressed by Commissioner Rex Buzzett.
He said he did not want any contract on the lighthouse project to be “open-ended” and emphasized, as did Magidson, that the money to fund the relocation would come from fundraising efforts through an ongoing campaign spearheaded by the St. Joseph Historical Society.
“We don’t have the money to pay anybody other than with raised funds,” Buzzett said.
Magidson said, “We don’t intend to saddle taxpayers with any of this.”
Kennedy suggested that Preble Rish and city staff agree on a scope of services for the project manager, using in large measure the Request for Proposals the city had begun advertising.
He said any scope of services should include a provision that the Commission has final say on subcontractors.
“We have to have some control over it and full knowledge,” Magidson said.
Gibson noted that the physical moving of the lighthouse, by its nature in size and expense, would be bid out under normal bid procedures in any circumstances.
He added that any items or services above the city’s $5,000 threshold that triggers a requirement for bidding would also be bid as usual.
Small items and services below that threshold, he said, Preble Rish could perform.
On other fronts concerning the move of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse, city manager Jim Anderson said the city expected the final federal paperwork conveying the lighthouse to the city “any day.”
Once the city receives that letter, the six-month clock to move the lighthouse begins to tick.
Magidson said that in discussions with possible movers of the lighthouse, the idea of moving the lighthouse by barge over St. Joseph Bay to the city was becoming more and more a preferred option.
Moving by barge could “save big money,” Magidson said, reducing the distance the lighthouse has to travel and the potential for damage in transit while also all but eliminating the need for road and/or electrical transmission line clearance for the move.
Also under consideration is moving the lighthouse by helicopter, though the logistics and costs are not clear.
Water line replacement
The first phase of the replacement of 20 miles of water distribution lines is all but complete save for a final punch list and repaving of torn up roads.
Bruce Ballister with the Apalachee Regional Planning Council told commissioners that the city had received a formal award of a $650,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to facilitate line replacement along Avenues B-D and part of E in the neighborhood of North Port St. Joe, which would complete the initial phase of replacing eight miles of pipe.
Ballister said that project would likely be bid in the spring and be completed in six months to dovetail into work on the second phase. The city will apply for another CDBG to fund the replacement of water lines in the remaining areas of North Port St. Joe.
The city and Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency will hold a public workshop 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday at the Washington Recreation Center to discuss with residents the project to replace sidewalks along Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.