Port St. Joe Mayor Mel Magidson’s update on the relocation of the Cape San Blas Lighthouse on Tuesday was succinct.
All systems go.
Magidson told his fellow commissioners during Tuesday’s regular bi-monthly meeting that he expected to call a special meeting within days to award the bids for moving the lighthouse and ancillary buildings.
Once a local preference issue was clarified by legal counsel, Magidson said, the major remaining obstacle would be Duke Energy and the lowering of power lines along the 10-12 miles of roadway the structures would have to be carried to new homes inside a Port St. Joe waterfront park.
Magidson said a one-page summary of the project was sent to the office of Gov. Rick Scott as part of a lobbying effort to receive an abatement of at least some of the costs of lowering and re-raising power lines.
The cost is estimated well into six figures.
“We are ready to go but for questions about the power lines and (awarding the bids),” Magidson said.
The money was in hand to meet the costs reflected in the bids, Magidson said, and in addressing one potential issue raised by critics of the move, Commissioner Rex Buzzett and Magidson said the roadwork on State 30A would be a benefit, not a hindrance.
“That work will actually help us,” Buzzett said. “It is wider and the culverts will be eliminated by the time we move it.”
Magidson said he had spoken to a project coordinator with the Florida Department of Transportation and been assured there would be no problem moving the structures through the area of the State 30A work, much of which has been completed.
“As soon as we get word on the power lines, we are ready to go,” Magidson said.
Commissioners will have to come back in formal session to award the bids.
The local preference issue focuses on Cathey Construction out of Mexico Beach, which submitted the low bid on the moving of the ancillary buildings and was the second-lowest bidder on moving the lighthouse.
The application of the city’s local preference, equal to 5 percent, would bring Cathey’s bid close to the low bid from a company out of Jacksonville.
City attorney Tom Gibson was to provide an opinion but was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Work on the replacement of water lines in the neighborhood of North Port St. Joe will finally break ground next week.
The job is carries a 120-day timeline, so the work should be complete by mid-summer, said Clay Smallwood of Preble Rish Engineers.
The long-delayed project – the section from Avenue D to Avenue A was part of the original phase of replacement – will include replacement of water lines simultaneous to installation of new sidewalks along Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Residents should expect some upset in the lines and problems with discolored water as work progresses.
Those problems are on the rebound on the south side of town as work along Marvin Avenue is completed and connections brought online to new pipes.
Work is also underway to replace pipes along Palm Blvd.
Public Works director John Grantland acknowledged an uptick in problems with discolored water due to the upset in the lines.
The problems have been reported from the city proper to St. Joe Beach.
“We ask people to please be patient,” Grantland said. “We are flushing and improvement is coming.”
City manager Jim Anderson said some households currently experiencing problems would see “dramatic improvement” as the Marvin Avenue section comes online.
As for the long-delayed report of a water study undertaken by CDM, designer of the city’s water plant, and Virginia Tech University, could be ready in a two weeks, Smallwood said, necessitating the workshop to discuss the findings and suggestions.
Commissioner William Thursbay expressed frustration with numerous delays in receiving the report and said the city needed answers as the “water is terrible.”