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City Council July 9, 2019, Meeting Brief

Full Agenda for July 9 City Council Meeting can be found HERE

Public Hearings – any new additions or amendments to City Code of Ordinances or City Zoning or Future Land Use Maps are presented to City Council for discussion and vote for approval or denial

Vice Mayor Van Royal, Council Member Connie Butler, and Council Member Pam Lewis were present for the July 9th meeting. Mayor Steven Kelley and Council Member Mitch Timberlake were absent and on vacation with loved ones and family.

1. Second and final reading of City Ordinance 0-09-2019 amending City Code Section 117, Article 1 “In General” to include a Future Land Use and Zoning Compatibility Table, a Permitted Use Table, and a Lot Requirements Table. These amendments were added by Planning and Zoning staff to assist the public in better understanding Land Use and Zoning maps and terms.

            Passed 3 – 0 by City Council.

2. First reading of City Ordinance 0-10-2019 rezoning 0.570 acres of property located on Houston Street from R-2 (Residential Medium Density Land Use) to PUD (Planned Unit Development) to develop two proposed duplexes for a total of four single family units with an attached garage. Property owner is Wiggins Construction Co. of North Florida and applicant is Fleet & Associates Architects/Planners, Inc.

            Passed 3 – 0 by City Council. Second and final reading on July 23.

3. Frist Reading of City Ordinance 0-11-2019 amending the Future Land Use Map for 1.46 acres of property located at 806 Oak Street from INS (Institutional) to RHD (Residential High Density) to develop a proposed 17-unit apartment complex. Property owner is Wiggins Construction Co. of North Florida and applicant is Fleet & Associates Architects/Planners, Inc.

            Passed 3 – 0 by City Council. Second and final reading on July 23.

4. First Reading of City Ordinance 0-12-2019 rezoning 1.46 acres of property located at 806 Oak Street from RPO (Residential Professional Office) to PUD (Planned Unit Development) to develop a proposed 17-unit apartment complex. Property owner is Wiggins Construction Co. of North Florida and applicant is Fleet & Associates Architects/Planners, Inc.

            Passed 3 – 0 by City Council. Second and final reading on July 23.

Consent Agenda – Routine items that are approved under one vote, unless pulled by City Council. Consent Agenda items pulled from the Consent Agenda are discussed and voted to either approve or deny by City Council. Below are highlighted items taken out of the Consent Agenda and discussed and voted on separately.

5. City Council approved a $200,000 purchase order to Atlantic Coast Asphalt Company for the Fiscal Year 2019 Asphalt Overlay Improvement Project. Area of the asphalt overlay project includes 900 block of Cooks Lane, Kirk Street from Harring Avenue to Forbes Street, Spring Street from Esplanade Avenue to Roberts Street, Walnut Street from Roberts Street to Citizen Street, Citizen Street from Forbes Street to Bonnaventure Avenue, Bell Avenue, Lemon Street including parking, Palm Street, Wall Street, Center Street along Highland Avenue and Oakridge Avenue, and Palmer Street along Highland Avenue and Oakridge Avenue.

            Passed 3 – 0 by City Council.

7. City Council approved the final plat for the Clay Habitat Commons 3-lot Subdivision located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Owned by Clay Habitat for Humanity, this lot will develop three single-family homes which will be occupied through Clay Habitat for Humanity’s program.

            Passed 3 – 0 by City Council.

11. City Council approved the following dates for workshops to review the Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Play for Fiscal year 2019/2020: August 6 at 9 a.m., August 8 at 9 a.m., August 13 at 9 a.m. and August 20 at 9 a.m.

            Passed 3 – 0 by City Council.

12. City Council approved September 3 at 7 p.m. and September 17 at 7 p.m. as the hearing dates for the first and final hearing to adopt the City of Green Cove Springs Operating Budget and Five Year Capital Improvement Plan for Fiscal Year 2019/2020.

            Passed 3 – 0 by City Council.

Council Business – Items that require discussion and vote for approval or denial from City Council

3. City Council discussion and consideration for staff to provide 90-day notice of termination for convenience of the Electric Distribution System Services contract with Hooper Corporation. City Council approved the contract with Hooper Corporation for its Electric Distribution System Services in April 2019. Since then, Hooper has added staff to the Electric Department and helped to develop a Capital Improvement Project which led to a $10.7 million loan to improve on electric system reliability. However, Hooper Corporation has also struggled to keep positions filled while in contract with the City. This has led to Hooper using some of their outside construction crew members to do day-to-day work on the electric system, which has significantly slowed the progress on some of the CIP loan’s ongoing projects.

City Manager Steve Kennedy and Assistant City Manager Mike Null have determined that the City would be paying less by hiring its own electric construction crew and day-to-day electric crew to continue with the CIP loan projects to improve the electric system and daily operation of the system. Both have requested the City Council to authorize the City to give a 90-day notice of termination to Hooper, as per the contract, and to allow City staff to move forward with hiring one Electric Department Director, one Electric Department Superintendent, four Electric Department Linemen, one Electric Department Apprentice, and one Electric Department Low-Voltage Technician.

            Passed 3 – 0 by City Council.

City Manager and City Attorney Reports and/or Correspondence

City Manager Steve Kennedy, along with Finance Direct Marlena Guthrie, introduced the City Council to the City’s new utility bill format. The City’s Finance Department worked with Enco Utility Services Florida, LLC, to develop a format that breaks down customers’ monthly bill by utility and includes up to date announcements and frequently asked questions. The new bill format will be introduced to Green Cove Springs utility customers in August.

First Coast Expressway Stakeholders Summit Encourages City to Stay Poised for Growth

The annual First Coast Expressway Stakeholders Summit held Thursday, June 20, at the Thrasher-Horne Center in Orange Park shared the current progress of the expressway as well as the anticipated future impacts to the project’s county, municipal and business stakeholders. The City of Green Cove Springs is a municipal stakeholder of the project.

The first phase of the expressway, from Blanding Boulevard/State Road 21 in Clay County north to I-10/U.S. 90 in Duval County, started in 2013 and is expected to be completed this spring, with tolling on that segment also to begin in Spring 2019. The second segment of the project, divided into a north project from north of SR 21 to north of SR16 and a south project from north of SR 16 to east of CR 209, began this year. The north project was started in February 2019 by Sacyr Construction, and the south project is scheduled to begin in Spring 2019 by Superior Construction. The third and final segment will be a new four-lane bridge over the St. Johns River just south of the current Shands Bridge and will connect the new expressway to I-95 in St. Johns County, and is expected to begin in 2023 or late 2022.

Clay County Economic Development Director Chereese Stewart talked about the business and residential development that will grow around the First Cost Expressway. Two proposed large mixed-use developments are already planned to be built around expressway interchanges. One on the interchange connecting SR 16 north to U.S. 17 south just outside of Green Cove Springs will develop the former Gustafson’s property to Governors Park, which proposes 6,000 residential units, 700,000 square feet of office space, 840,000 square feet of commercial space, 2 million square feet of warehouse space, and a 400-room hotel.

As a stakeholder the City is preparing for the continued progress of the expressway and development surrounding it through its major electric system and water and wastewater system upgrades, and its recent restructure of its Development Services department to help hone the City’s focus of planning and zoning within City Limits as the surrounding area grows with the expressway.

June 18 City Council Brief: Council Moves on Economic Development Updates

June 24, Green Cove Springs, FL – City Council approved a revision of economic development section of the City Code Tuesday evening, and for City Staff to come back to City Council with permanent changes at a later date. The change is that large business customers will pay the full price for an electric upgrade on their property, but pay a proportionate amount to the City on electric upgrades on City land.

This change was proposed by City manager Steve Kennedy and Assistant City Manager Mike Null after two businesses—PASS and AMCOM—on CR 315 requested that the City upgrade its electric service in order to accommodate the amount of power both businesses will use once opened. This will require the City to replace all the electric transformers on that section of CR 315 to accommodate the increase of power.

 Because this upgrade will amount to a significant cost, City Manager Steve Kennedy proposed that the cost will be split between the businesses and the City. This upgrade will also improve the electric system overall, as well as the reliability and capacity of the electric utility on CR 315. In the past, the City has expected the business to pay for all costs related to development.

City Council also approved the first reading of City Ordinance No. O-09-2019, which amends City Code Section 117, Article 1 “In General.” Development Services Staff created a Future Land Use and Zoning Compatibility Table, Table of Permitted Uses, and a Lot Requirements Table to add to this section of the City Code. These tables were created to make this information more accessible and user-friendly, as well as allowing for easy comparison of permitted uses and lot requirements between zoning districts.

The City Council also approved to send Mayor Steven Kelley to the 93rd Annual Florida League of Cities Conference in Orlando on August 15-17. Mayor Kelley will represent the City of Green Cove Springs and vote on all items discussed during the conference. The Council also directed staff to submit Resolution No. R-13-2018 (St Johns River – Maritime Highway) which was submitted for the Florida League of Cities’ consideration during the same conference in 2018, and reiterate the City’s support for Home Rule.

North Florida TPO Traffic Safety Survey

The North Florida TPO is asking Clay County residents to fill out its Traffic Safety Survey to assist them in prioritizing safety investments in its update of the Regional Strategic Safety Plan. Residents can fill out the survey until Friday, June 28, and a completed survey is a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card.

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North Florida TPO Telephone Town Hall Meeting June 12 & June 13

North Florida Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) will be hosting a Telephone Town Hall Meeting 6:30-7:30 p.m. June 12 and June 13. The organization will be talking about its Path Forward 2045 long range plan, which maps out the transportation projects the region will be working on for the next 20 years and is updated every five years to reflect the changing needs of the region.

Unlike traditional town hall meetings, people will just need to call in and listen to the presentation. Anyone interested in registering for the Telephone Town Hall Meeting can go to https://tthm.wufoo.com/…/register-for-our-live-telephone-t…/

For more information about the Telephone Town Hall Meetings or the Path Forward 2045 long range plan go to http://pathforward2045.com/

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June 4 City Council Meeting Brief: Major Utilities and Park Projects Earn Approval for Next Steps

June 5, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – City Council approved the next steps for two major City projects during its June 4 meeting.

City Council authorized the issuance of the $1,500,000 loan to Synovous Bank for the City water distribution system improvements in the Reynolds Park area, which is part of a larger project to improve the City’s water distribution system.

City Council also approved staff to move forward with an agreement with firm TOCOI Engineering to work on engineering for the Spring Park Public Access Pier. The City was awarded $600,000 from the state through the Legislative Line Item Special Appropriations Grant Program in October 2018, and part of that grant is to pay for engineering of the project.

City Council also approved nominations to two boards. For the Planning and Zoning Board, two renominations of Ed Gaw for Seat 5 and Henrietta Francis for Seat 4 were approved, and the nomination of Gary Luke for Seat 3 by Vice Mayor Van Royal was approved. City Council approved the reappointment of Deborah Wiedman and Luke Byrne on the Green Cove Springs Police Pension Board for another two-year term.  

The City Council also recognized Mr. Robert Lewis for his six years on the Planning and Zoning Board with a proclamation and plaque, and Council Member Constance W. Butler for her service as mayor of Green Cove Springs from May 15, 2018 to May 21, 2019.

May 21 City Council Brief: Re-Elected City Council Seats Sworn in and New Mayor and Vice Mayor Elected

May 23, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – The newly sworn in City Council elected Steven Kelley, Council Member Seat 5, as Mayor and Van Royal, Council Member Seat 4, as Vice Mayor of Green Cove Springs at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.

Both Kelley and Royal, as well as Council Member Constance Butler, were also sworn in to their re-elected seats. This will be Royal’s third term, and Kelley’s and Butler’s second. The term of all three seats ends May 17, 2022.

City Council also voted to move forward with the new Public Works Building and contract with Auld & White Constructors for the construction of the project. The City has been in negotiations with the architect on the design of the building since February, and has been able to bring the cost of the design of the project down by $454,600 to $1,345,400. This is closer to the original project budget of $1,300,000, but at the sacrifice of changing several elements of the building to more cost-effective options. These changes do reduce the longevity of the building.

Assistant City Manager Mike Null said that these changes were made by staff after several discussions to keep the project on budget. While City Council understood the reasoning behind the changes and approved the amended design, the Council said that they are disappointed that the cuts will reduce the quality of the building for public works employees.

Council approved City staff to pursue a loan not to exceed $1,500,000 for improvements to the City’s water distribution system in Reynolds Park. These improvements are a Priority 1 project of the Water Master Plan, adopted by the City Council in June 2018, and incorporated into the Water Capital Improvement Program (CIP).  

City Council also approved the Green Cove Springs Police Department to purchase a used K9 police vehicle from the North Miami Beach Police Department for $7,500. The department will add the Green Cove Springs Police decals and safety features to the vehicle. The department is working on adding a K9 unit to its law enforcement through the GRIT Foundation K9 Partnership Program, and anticipates to bring its first K9 officer on board in the summer.

City Manager Steve Kennedy told the City Council that he plans to present the schedule of Food Truck Friday through 2020 at the June 4 meeting. With the popularity of the monthly event, Kennedy said that the event’s organizer Ed Gaw already has local bands requesting to play at the event next year. Kennedy also said that he would like the City to take a more proactive role as a sponsor in the event, and would like to discuss ways that the City can be more involved with the event.

City Expands Fuse Sacrifice System Switch to North Substation Circuit 1

May, 16, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – With the success of South Substation Circuit 2 switch to Fuse Sacrifice System, the City will expand Fuse Sacrifice to North Substation Circuit 1 on Monday, May 20.

Circuit 2 covers the area north of SR 16 bounded by Oakridge Avenue and Vermont Street, the area south of SR 16 bounded by Vermont Street and West Street, Bonaventure Avenue, Esplanade Avenue, and Center Street.

The City’s electrical system is currently running on a fuse save system. On this system, the entire circuit sees a blink during an intermittent event, leaving crews to inspect the entire circuit to locate the cause.

On a fuse sacrifice system, only the fuse and the power lines it’s connected to will lose power. Those homes affected by the outage will remain without power for longer, but fewer homes will be impacted during an outage.

 Electric Director Steve Howard agreed, emphasizing that fuse sacrifice systems provides greater opportunities for the electric department to isolate and improve power interruptions by identifying the cause of the power outage.

For more information contact Communications Coordinator Tiffanie Reynolds at 904-297-7500, ext. 3329, or treynolds@greencovesprings.com.

City Clears Potential Mosquito Breeding Grounds Through Community Clean Up Week

May 15, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – City of Green Cove Springs Solid Waste, Public Works and Water Departments teamed up to collect just under 48 tons of mixed waste and tires during Community Clean Up Week, April 22 to May 3.

During those two weeks, the City collected a total of 41.11 tons of mixed waste and 6.85 tons of tires. A majority of the mixed waste was construction debris, but City of Green Cove Springs Public Works Field Supervisor Mike Worley said that the biggest positive impact of the event was the number of tires that were picked up from residential yards.

“Another big plus is that picking up so many tires that contained rain water were a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” said Worley. “Hopefully this will help to reduce their population.”

Worley, Assistant Public Works Director Steve Thomas, and Assistant City Manager Mike Null, who worked together to organize Community Clean Up Week, said that they are glad the event helped to clean out so many residential yards of debris that wouldn’t normally be included during normal trash pick up schedules.

Community Clean Up Week is a two week period where City of Green Cove Springs Solid Waste Department will pick up tires, construction debris, yard waste, and discarded household appliances on top of normal garbage pick up. The Solid Waste Department was assisted this year by Steve Thomas, Richard Jackson, Shayne Taylor, Nathan Nettles, and Sean Thacker of Public Works and Ryan Andersen of the City of Green Cove Springs Water Department.

May 7 City Council Brief: Community Clean Up Week a Success

May 8, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – Assistant City Manager Mike Null reported that Community Clean Up Week—which ran from April 22 to May 3—was a success for the City.

Null said that City Solid Waste and additional Public Works employees picked up a total of 41.11 tons of mixed trash and 6.85 tons of tires during that two-week period.

In other City Council business, Council Member Pam Lewis nominated Ronald Baker III to the Planning and Zoning Board to replace Robert Lewis, who recently submitted his Letter to Retire after serving the board for eight years. Her nomination was unanimously approved.

City Council also approved to reschedule the July City Council meetings to July 9 and July 23 and cancel the meeting on Dec. 17. This new schedule will be updated on the City website.

City Council also recognized several designated weeks in May with proclamations. They included National Safe Boating Week, presented to Coast Guard Auxiliary Dan Hess, Rick Preston, Kathy Fisk, Military Service Day, presented to Green Cove Springs VFW Post 1988 Junior Vice Commander Carmon Wulf, National Police Week, presented to Green Cove Springs Police Chief Derek Asdot and officers, and Public Service Week, which was presented to all present City employees.

City Reintroduces Swim Lessons for Summer 2019

May 1, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – The City of Green Cove Springs is partnering with Ponte Vedra Beach- based company Planet Swim to offer swim lessons at its City Pool for the third summer in a row.

Lessons are offered to children ages 4 through 12 for one of two four-week sessions. The first session will be held June 4 to June 28 and the second session will be held July 2 to July 30. Classes during these sessions will be held two days a week during one of three 40-minute time slots. Parents and guardians have the option to sign up for a Tuesday and Thursday or Wednesday and Friday class schedule and can choose between time slots of 9:00-9:40 a.m., 9:45-10:25 a.m., and 10:30-11:10 a.m. during those days.

This summer swim lessons are open to the public. Lessons are $50 per swimmer for one four-week session. Parents can register their children for swim lessons with Executive Assistant Kim Thomas on the second floor of City Hall. Registration applications can be filled out at City Hall or printed and filled out through the City’s website greencovesprings.com. The City will accept cash, card, money order or check to pay the swim lesson fee.

Registration is on a first come, first serve basis, and will remain open until all day and time slots for both sessions are filled.

For more information please contact Communications Coordinator Tiffanie Reynolds at treynolds@greencovesprings.com or 904-297-7500, ext. 3329.

April 16 City Council Meeting Brief: Ordinances on Wireless Facilities and Beer and Wine Consumption Approved

April 17, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – Green Cove Springs City Council approved the second and final reading of two City Ordinances during Tuesday, April 16, meeting.

Ordinance No. O-06-2019, pertaining to utility poles for wireless facilities on City rights-of-way, amends Chapter 74 of the City Code of Ordinances and creates Chapter 82 entitled “Communications Facilities Rights-Of-Way Ordinance.” This ordinance is in response to the state legislature bill “Advanced Wireless Infrastructure Deployment Act,” passed in June 2017, which regulates how wireless communication companies can place new utility poles and equipment on city rights-of-way. The council passed this ordinance as a way to manage the growth of wireless communications facilities within city limits in accordance with this new state law.

Ordinance No. O-08-2019 amends City Code Section 62-138(2), which allows the possession, consumption, or serving of beer and wine at City sponsored events in Spring Park under limited condition. Amendments in this ordinance includes extending the period of time of serving beer and wine from three hours to four hours, and establishes signage to mark the area where the consumption of beer and wine is allowed.

 City Council also agreed to move the discussion to participate in Florida Municipal Power Association’s solar program to May. Several other Florida cities have agreed to be part of the program, which would allow FMPA to work with these cities in how to incorporate solar power into the city electric grid.

Other topics moved to May for discussion include evaluating the priority of projects in the City’s loan for electrical grid upgrades, discussing partnerships with i9 Sports for fall sports programming and Planet Swim for the funding of swim lessons for Summer 2019.

April 2 City Council Meeting Brief: Council Amends Beer and Wine at City Sponsored Events, Moves Forward with Park Trail and New Playground Equipment

April 4, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – City Council passed the first reading of Ordinance O-08-2019, which amends City Code to allow the possession, consumption or serving of beer and wine at City sponsored events in Spring Park under limited conditions.

This ordinance will directly apply to events like CalaVida and Food Truck Fridays, where beer and wine are allowed in specific, contained areas of Spring Park. The specific changes that this ordinance will make include extending the maximum time of serving beer and wine to four hours and requiring the event organizer or the vendor specifically serving to have a state beverage permit and other necessary permits and licenses in order to allow alcohol during the event. These changes do not include the sale of beer and wine.  

Ordinance O-08-2019 will have its second and final reading on Tuesday, April 16.

City Council also plans to contribute to removing an 85-foot derelict Burger Motor Yacht from Muddy Cove. The estimated total cost of hauling away the steel cabin cruiser is $172,805. Clay County was recently awarded a 75% grant from Florida Wildlife Commission and requires the county to provide the remaining 25% of the grant, a cost of $43,201.25.

City Council indicated an interest in providing the county up to $10,000 of the total remaining grant cost. It directed City staff to identify an appropriate funding source and present their findings at the next City Council meeting on April 16.

Two park projects are approved to move forward as part of the consent agenda. One is approval of a Local Area Project agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation for the design phase of an 8-foot wide multi-purpose trail from Oak Street to Governor Street along Palmetto Avenue and from Palmetto Avenue to Vera Francis Hall Park along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. With this approval, City staff can now proceed with hiring a contractor for the design and placement of the trail.

The other is approval of a purchase order to Playworx Playset, LLC, to both renovate and install new playground equipment at Spring Park. New equipment to the playground includes a spinner and a handicap swing set. The total cost of new and replacement playground equipment is $55,198.  

March 19 City Council Brief: Water Project Funds and Red Light Camera Enhancements Get the Green Light, Food Truck Friday Proposes Plans to Expand

March 21, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – City Council begins the process of starting capital improvement projects on the City’s water system by passing the first reading of the ordinance to borrow up to $18 million to complete proposed projects, as requested by City staff.

The projects covered in this ordinance include design and construction of improvements to Reynolds Park Water System, design and construction of improvements to the Harbor Road Water Treatment Facility and Bonaventure and Magnolia Point Cul-de-sacs, design and construction of high service pumps and Well #2 in Reynolds Park, design and construction of asbestos concrete pipe replacement, and design and construction of the Governors Creek Water Main.

Once the ordinance is passed in its second and final reading, staff will start with funding projects in order of priority; starting with Reynolds Park water system improvements.

City Council also approved to renew and amend the Professional Service Agreement for American Traffic Solutions (ATS) red light cameras. The amendment authorizes ATS to add Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPR) to the red light cameras on the three intersections within City limits. The ALPRs will be used for law enforcement purposes, such as identifying stolen vehicles, wanted vehicles, and vehicles marked as an Amber Alert or Silver Alert.

With the addition of Automatic License Plate Readers, the agreement has been extended with the City for another five years. The readers will be installed two months after the renewed agreement is finalized.

Ed Gaw, owner of Hi-Liner Gear and Fishing Tackle, Inc. and organizer of Green Cove Springs Food Truck Friday, reported to the City Council Tuesday that the event is growing and he is in talks with Green Cove Springs Police Chief Derek Asdot and City officials to expand.

He said that Food Truck Friday on March 15 attracted an estimated 2,500 people to Spring Park, and that 5 of the 6 food trucks in the park sold out by the end of the night. He’s in talks with Asdot, City Attorney Jim Arnold, and City Manager Steve Kennedy to expand the area of future Food Truck Fridays to include Walnut Street, Spring Street, and Magnolia Avenue. He hopes to work with the City to close down those streets around Spring Park down to allow food trucks to be spread out around the park and give more room for anticipated increased crowds. He plans to present a detailed proposal to City Council soon.

March 5 City Council Meeting Brief: City moves forward with water rate study and CIP projects

March 11, 2019, Green Cove Springs – Green Cove Springs City Council approved the updated study of the 2016 Rate Study for Water Utilities by consulting engineers Mittauer & Associates, Inc. and directed staff to return with an ordinance authorizing borrowing of funds for immediate Water Capital Improvement Projects and begin the process of securing a loan during Tuesday night’s meeting.

The presented study was requested by City Council in September 2018 so water rates can reflect the several water infrastructure projects approved for the next five years.

The study identified $16 million in projects prioritized for the next five years, including design and construction of Reynolds Water System Improvements, design and construction of Harbor Road General Storage Tank No. 3, design and construction of Bonaventure Water Treatment Facility Improvements (Magnolia Point 3rd feed), design and construction of Magnolia Point Cul-de-sac Water Main Improvements, and design and construction of Reynolds WTF HS Pumps and Well No. 2 Replacement.

Each of these projects will be funded through a combination of low-interest loans and grants. To accommodate this funding, the study recommends a water rate increase between 2 percent and 5 percent per year over the next 10 years to all Green Cove Springs water customers.

City Staff will first come back with an ordinance for City Council to authorize staff to secure funds for each project--for a total of $16 million—at the March 19 City Council meeting. Staff will then move to the first priority project—the design and construction of the Reynolds Water System Improvements—in April and present City Council to go after the $1.37 million total cost of the project through available funding options.

City Council will review the budget and water Capital Improvement Projects every year, and adjust water rates according to the needs of the budget.

Feb. 19 City Council Brief: Fuse Sacrifice System Update, Changes to Public Works Building Plan

Feb. 21, 2018, Green Cove Springs, FL – Steve Howard of Hooper Corporation updated the City Council on the progress of the Fuse Sacrifice System. This system transition covered Circuit 2 of the City’s South Substation, which includes Melrose Avenue, areas east of CSX Railroad and Orange Avenue and South of SR 16. He reported that since the switch was made on January 2, 2019, there have been only two outages in the area.

With the Fuse Sacrifice System in place vegetation and wildlife have been identified as the cause of past power “blips” and outages. Howard said that Hooper Corporation is reducing those causes by trimming fast growing and high density areas of trees, and installing grounding equipment around electric poles to make electric lines safe for wildlife to cross.

Howard also gave an update on that status of projects under the $10.7 million electric loan for electric system improvements. They have now completely replaced 78 electric poles, completed improvements to electric poles and power lines on CR 209, completed improvements around the railroad crossing on Oak Street, and conversion of our 4kV system. They are currently in the middle of replacing fuse connectors throughout the electric grid and working on improvements along Roberts Street.

Another point of discussion during Tuesday night’s meeting were proposed changes to new public works building design. Assistant City Manager Mike Null said that after looking at half of the design plan with Bhide and Hall Architects and Auld & White Constructors, costs for the building already exceed the budgeted $1.3 million for the project. Null proposed the following changes to the design plan, including: removing restroom wall tile, reducing quantity of windows, installing fire sprinklers instead of firewalls in the building, remove interior insulation, and removing the planned bike rack. As a way to cut down costs even further, Null suggested that the site and utility work can be done by city public works employees.

Null said that part of the increase was due to design elements that the city had to add to meet state building codes. These costs weren’t factored into the estimated cost of the building. Null also said that making these changes now will prevent more significant changes to the plan when the designs are complete.

The council unanimously approved of these changes, with City Council Member Van Royal voicing concerns about using city staff for the site work.

City Manager Steve Kennedy announced he will be presenting a contract for renewal of red light cameras at the next City Council Meeting, with the contract to also include the capability to utilize license plate readers. He also announced that City staff are working on plans for an upcoming City clean up day.

Augusta Savage Community Fine Arts Program Brings Sculptor’s Legacy to Future Generations

February 13, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – A program years in the making, Friends of Augusta Savage, Inc., and Green Cove Springs Library launch the City’s first community fine arts program.

“The Friends believe that there is unlimited, untapped and innate talent right here in Green Cove Springs and Clay County, and that this fine arts program will act as the catalyst and stir up those skills,” said Henrietta Francis, president of Friends of Augusta Savage, Inc.

The Augusta Savage Community Fine Arts Program is a series of hands-on art workshops aimed at elementary school children ages 5-12 years old. Each workshop will focus on the life and work of an influential African-American artist, and give each child the opportunity to create their own art piece using that artist’s medium.

Workshops will be held on the second Tuesday and second Saturday of every month from March through May. Saturday’s workshops will be held at the Thomas Hogans Memorial Gym, 415 Lemon Street, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday’s workshops will be held at the Green Cove Springs Library, 403 Ferris Street, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Each workshop will be taught by Barbara Cornett, director of The Augusta Savage Community Fine Arts Program. An art teacher for private and home-schooled children for over 10 years, Cornett will combine history, principles and elements of art, and hands-on practice for children to understand the influence of the artist and their work.

“What I hope through this group is that every child finds their God-given gifts and uses that to put them on the right path in the world,” said Cornett.

Cornett said that the idea for the program took root after she met Henrietta Francis at the Augusta Savage Cultural Festival in February 2018. The two met every month or every other month to discuss details of the program and make it a reality.

Francis said that a community fine arts program has been part of the community vision of Friends of Augusta Savage, Inc. for years, and the missing piece was a teacher like Cornett. Meeting Cornett was perfect timing for the rest of the pieces of the program to fall into place.

For Cornett and Francis, the program is a way to teach the public about the influence of Augusta Savage and the artists that she taught in Savage’s teaching spirit. They hope to expand the program in the future by holding a monthly workshop during the school year, focusing on a different artist and different art medium in each workshop. As the program grows, Francis wants to include music, dance, drama, and poetry as the focus of workshops in the fine arts program.

The Friends of Augusta Savage, Inc’s larger vision is to establish an Augusta Savage Art Studio in the Augusta Savage Community Center.

The program’s first workshop is being held this Saturday, February 16, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Green Cove Springs Library. It will focus on the life and work of Augusta Savage, including a reading by Green Cove Springs Mayor Connie Butler and District 1 Board of County Commissioners Chairman Mike Cella, followed by a clay sculpting arts and crafts session.

For those interested in signing up their children for workshops or with any additional questions can contact Barbara Cornett at AugustaSavageFineArtsProgram@gmail.com.

Augusta Savage Community Fine Arts Program Dates

Discovering Jacob Lawrence: Tempera Painting (emphasis on color and shape)

Saturday, March 9 – Thomas Hogans Memorial Gym

Tuesday, March 12 – Green Cove Springs Library

Discovering Faith Ringgold: Fiber Arts/Story Quilt and Oil Pastels (texture and perspective)

Saturday, April 13 – Thomas Hogans Memorial Gym

Tuesday, April 16 – Green Cove Springs Library

Discovering Romare Bearden: Photo Collage/Mixed Media (juxtaposition and rhythm)

Saturday, May 11 – Thomas Hogans Memorial Gym

Tuesday, May 14 – Green Cove Springs Library

City Council Feb. 5 Meeting Brief: City Honors Police Department Retirees and Moves Forward with City Clerk and Electric Utility Projects

Feb. 7, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – Green Cove Springs City Council honored the retirement of two long-time city police officers. Mayor Connie Butler presented a plaque of service to Green Cove Springs Police Officer James Melvin Acres and Officer Chris Kennison.

Acres worked as a police officer for 28 years, with 18 of those years as part of the Green Cove Springs Police Department. During those years he has served on the Honor Guard, been a part of the FDLE Child Abduction Response Team, and helped train other Green Cove Springs Police officers as one of the department’s firearms instructors, field training officer, and AR15 and Glock Armorer.

Kennison worked as a police officer for 20 years and served as an officer of the Green Cove Springs Police Department since August 1999. During that time, he worked in many areas of the department, including training several officers of the Green Cove Springs Police Department.

Along with saying farewell to these officers, Tuesday’s meeting also brought news of new hires. Human Resources Director Mary Jane Lundy announced two finalists for City Clerk, a position that has been vacant since Julie Clevenger’s retirement in November 2018. Both final candidates are from outside Green Cove Springs, have a Municipal Clerk Certification, a master’s degree in public administration, and 10 years of experience in a city clerk office. Both will be interviewed and selected by the City Council at the end of February.

City Council also approved two purchase orders to Hooper Corporation for electric utility projects. The first purchase order of $86,760 is to install lightning arrestors along power lines from the Chapman Substation into town and proper grounding throughout the entire electric grid. The lightning arrestors will help to prevent extensive damage to power lines in case of lightning strikes, and updating grounding on main points of power in the City’s electric grid will help prevent power surges from traveling down entire circuit lines and damaging electrical equipment.

The second purchase order of $114,900 is to upgrade wire on power lines on Center Street between Palmetto Avenue and Roderico Avenue. Upgrading these lines from copper to aluminum will help the City restore power to those homes and businesses more efficiently during outages, and allow the Clay County School Board offices to switch to the North Substation circuit in order to avoid interruptions to their technical systems during future outages. Both projects are part of the $10.7 million loan for electric upgrades.

Parks and Recreation Programming Director Glee Glisson announced her interest in starting a summer movie series in Spring Park. She plans to hold each movie night by the Spring Park Gazebo once a month from April to September and is looking at cost for movie licensing and equipment such as a projector, projector screen and speakers. The City Council approved the idea and voted for her to come back at the next meeting to present cost options for the monthly event in more detail.

Green Cove Springs Celebrates Black History Month with a Fine Arts Program and Cultural Festival in Honor of Augusta Savage

Jan. 31, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – Green Cove Springs is celebrating Black History Month with events happening throughout the whole month of February, including launching The Augusta Savage Community Fine Arts Program and the annual Augusta Savage Cultural Festival. Friends of Augusta Savage, Inc., through collaboration with local churches, Green Cove Springs Library, and the community, will be hosting events every weekend.

The month kicks off with a trip to The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens to tour “Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman” exhibit on Saturday, Feb. 2. The community is invited to join the youth of African Baptist Church in Green Cove Springs at the museum at 10:30 a.m. The tour will last an hour and a half.

At 6 p.m. that same day Mount Zion A.M.E. Church, 549 Palmetto Ave., Green Cove Springs, hosts the musical “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Church choirs from across Clay County and Jacksonville gather to celebrate African American heritage through song, including: New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, First African Missionary Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church, Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church, Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, Mount Zion A.M.E. Church, and The Lord’s Church Ministries in Jacksonville.

On Saturday, Feb. 16, Green Cove Springs Library hosts the first annual Celebration of Augusta Fells Savage from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the library. This program is open to children ages 5-12 to learn about the life and legacy of Augusta Savage, with readings by Clay County Commissioner Mike Cella and Green Cove Springs Mayor Connie Butler followed by making small clay sculptures.

Saturday’s event also kicks off The Augusta Savage Community Fine Arts Program, a series of one-day workshops open to children ages 5-12 and parents to learn from master artists with hands-on activities. Each workshop—held on the second Tuesday and Saturday of each month—focuses on a different artist, with participants creating their own art using that artist’s technique. Workshops will continue from March to May.  

Green Cove Springs Junior High School, 1220 Bonaventure Ave., hosts the Black History Program “Black History is American History” at 6 p.m. on February 16.

The month of celebration ends with the Augusta Savage Cultural Festival, co-sponsored by the City of Green Cove Springs. The festival runs 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, at Spring Park in Green Cove Springs. Activities throughout the day include a demonstration of West African culture by Kreative Kids and Beyond, Inc, a non-profit organization bringing awareness of the cultural arts, The Afri-Touch Fashion Show, a local artist marketplace, food vendors, and arts and crafts for children. The festival also features music performances by U.S. Navy Jazz Combo, Clay High Drum Line, Heart’s Desire, and Accoustic Visions.

City Council Jan. 22 Meeting Brief: Charter Amendments Approved for April Elections

Jan. 24, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – City Council approved the second and final reading of City Ordinance No. O-01-2019, placing the City Charter amendments recommended by the Charter Review Committee on the ballot for April 2019 elections.

Amendments include: Providing a general statement that the City shall abide by all applicable nondiscrimination laws of the state and federal government; allow city manager to authorize budgeted expenditures of up to $25,000; allow city manager to authorize reasonable and necessary emergency expenditures for operating, public health and safety disasters; require the city manager to evaluate the city clerk annually, and not require the city attorney to reside or have an office within the city.

City Council also approved the grant funding and for City Manager Steve Kennedy to use that funding to hire Mittauer & Associates as the engineering firm for Phase One Construction of the Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility project. Phase One includes improvements to the plant reclaimed water systems, plant electrical upgrades, and rehabilitation of Lift Station #2 and Lift Station #4.

City Council also approved to withdraw the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Grant for the St. Johns River Trail, Phase II, for staff to re-apply at a future date. The current grant amount only covers a little over a quarter of the project cost. Staff would like to withdraw and re-apply at a future date because the maximum grant amount has doubled, and staff feels confident that the project can be awarded more money under this grant program in the future.

Green Cove Springs Community Celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jan. 17, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – The City of Green Cove Springs comes together to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with its 3rd annual MLK Day Ceremony.

It will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 21, at Vera Francis Hall Park, 1400 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Green Cove Springs.

This year’s ceremony features Senior pastor of Mount Zion AME Church Rev. James Pernell, Sr., as the ceremony’s Keynote Speaker, and the First African Missionary Baptist Church Youth Group, directed by Mrs. Procha Sweet, performing an instrumental selection on Cello by Jackson Brown IV.

The City Council started organizing a ceremony for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 2017 to connect the community to the national holiday in a personal way. Since the first ceremony, it’s grown in attendance, speakers, and performances every year.

“We wanted to commemorate the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., in civil rights. It’s a reminder to the community of his work, as well as educate the community on the civil rights movement,” said Green Cove Springs Mayor Connie Butler. “Civil rights is an every day occurrence, and that it’s for all people.”

Green Cove Springs City Hall and all city departments will also be closed on Monday, Jan. 21, in recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

More information about the 3rd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Ceremony, including a full schedule, can be found HERE.  

Jan. 8 City Council Brief: City Charter Amendments up for Referendum Vote

Jan. 14, 2019, Green Cove Springs, FL – Green Cove Springs City Council unanimously voted to bring the proposed City Charter amendments to a referendum vote during the Tuesday, Jan. 8, meeting.

These amendments were brought to the City Council by an appointed Charter Review Committee on the Dec. 4 City Council meeting and include: Providing a general statement the City shall abide by all applicable nondiscrimination laws of the State and Federal government, allow the City Manager to authorize budgeted expenditures of up to $25,000.00, allow City Manager to authorize reasonable and necessary emergency expenditures for operating, public health, and safety disasters, require the City Manager to evaluate the City Clerk annually, and not require the City Attorney to reside or have an office within the city. These amendments will be included in the April 9, 2019, election ballot.

Funding was approved for a couple of emergency stormwater and wastewater repairs on West and Houston Street. A crack in the Houston street trunk line, a major city sewer line, was discovered in mid-December. City Council approved $58,487.29 already spent from the Wastewater Fund Capital Improvement Program budget to repair the crack. An additional $32,500 in a supplemental agenda was approved by City Council to line 340 feet of the Houston street trunk line to prevent future cracks happening on the pipe.

City Council also approved $68,655 as part of the supplemental agenda to repair a storm drainage pipe under West Street. The 54-inch diameter line collapsed between Spruce Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in late December, causing Public Works to close the street and sidewalk. This approval of emergency funding allows Public Works to repair the pipe immediately.

City Council also approved the site plan for a new townhome development and the final phase of Magnolia West. Magnolia West Phase Four will add 126 homes to Magnolia West, with the roads under the responsibility of the City. 

The site development plan for Pinewood Court Townhomes was also approved by the City Council. The new development, located at Pinewood Court, proposes to include 12 townhome units with 26 parking spaces. The site is currently 1.04 acres of vacant land.

Phase One and the master site plan of the Public Works Compound renovations were also approved by the City Council, with the expectation that plans for future phases of the project will be approved only if it is consistent with the approved master site plan. Phase one includes a new 8,000-square-foot administration building and five new public parking spaces. Auld & White Constructors. LLC, have been selected as the contractor for the project, and bidding for sub-contractors will begin in March.

City Council also approved for the City to purchase a used 300 KW generator to have on standby to maintain water and sewage services in the event of a storm or extended power outage for $48,500 and to purchase 100 LED street lights to replace the light fixtures in street lights along U.S. 17 and SR 16 for $24,805.

Qualifying for 2019 Municipal Elections starts January 28

Qualifying for City Council Seats 3, 4, and 5 will be open from noon on Monday, January 28, 2019, to noon on Friday, February 1, 2019. Qualifying packets can be picked up at the Clay County Supervisor of Elections, 500 N. Orange Avenue, Green Cove Springs.

 Please read the full Legal Notice for Qualifying for full details, deadlines and dates for municipal elections. 

Roberts Street to Undergo Electric Upgrades

Upgrades to electric lines, poles, transformers and street lights along Roberts Street will begin the week of Dec. 30, 2018. These upgrades are part of the $10.7 million loan that the City obtained earlier this year to improve its electrical system. The work is expected to last until April 2019. Read the full letter from Assistant City Manager Mike Null to get more details about the project and how it will affect those living along the street. 

Dec. 4 City Council Brief: City Moving Forward with Major Projects for 2019

Green Cove Springs, FL – For its last meeting of 2018, Green Cove Springs City Council approved the execution of two significant projects for the City.

City Council executed the loan/grant contract under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection State Revolving Fund program for Phase 1 construction of the Consolidated Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant and improvements to Lift Stations 2 and 4 and the City’s wastewater collection lines. This approval allows Public Works to officially move forward with construction of the wastewater treatment plant and improvements to lift stations and wastewater collection lines.

After spending a majority of 2018 applying for and securing a $600,000 grant through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, City Council approved executing the grant for improvements to the City Pier in Spring Park. This grant will allow the City to design and rebuild portions of the existing pier and floating docks, as well as design and build a new pier and floating docks for larger vessels. Part of the grant will also be used to build a wave attenuating system to protect the pier and docks from wave erosion and damage. This approval allows Public Works to use the grant money and begin work on the City Pier.

City Council also approved to advertise for the city clerk position and a chief building official and a planning and zoning director for Development Services. The city clerk position is currently vacant with Julie Clevinger’s retirement on Nov. 14.

The chief building official and planning and zoning director are part of the restructuring of Development Services, proposed by City Manager Steve Kennedy during the Nov. 13 City Council meeting. The chief building official will report directly to the City Manager and supervise the code enforcement officer. The planning and zoning director will also report to the City Manager and replace the development services director position. This position will focus on supervising planning and zoning. These restructured positions will help support the Development Services Department’s current workload, as well as prepare the department for the anticipated increase in building and development in the future.

The Charter Review Committee gave its concluding report to City Council. Some of the committee’s recommended changes to the charter include adding a nondiscrimination statement, increasing the city manager’s spending authority to $25,000 before seeking approval from the City Council, more clearly defining the scope of city manager’s powers in an emergency and add that the City Council is required to review emergency expenditures made by the City Manager after the emergency, assign annual performance review of the city clerk to the City Manager, and expand the City Council’s field of legal resources removing the requirement for the City Attorney to reside or maintain an office within the City limits. The committee also suggested considerations for future Charter Review Committees once Green Cove Springs reaches a population of 15,000 people, including that the city mayor become an elected position, expand the size of the City Council, review the salary of City Council members, and establish City Council boundary districts.

Parks and Recreation Programming Director Glee Glisson announced new safety rules for Thomas Hogans Memorial Gym. These new rules include no backpacks, purses, or bags of any kind allowed inside the gym, and a minimum of two city staff will be present at the gym. These safety rules apply to the gym’s open hours of 3-7 p.m. seven days a week. Green Cove Springs Police Department officers will also visit the gym every day during open hours. A new sign with these rules will be installed in the gym.

Green Cove Springs residents and visitors will soon see the first mural approved by the City Council under the City’s Mural Program, enacted in 2017. “Cove in Bloom” by Clay County artist Sophie Dentiste will be painted at 404 Walnut Street, on the wall facing Orange Avenue. The mural will feature native Florida flora and fauna in an art deco style. Once the funding is secured, it will take Dentiste two weeks to paint the mural.

Dentiste has set up a GoFundMePage to fund the mural project. All donations will go towards the materials and promotion of the project, with excess funds donated to Mercy Support Services and the Art Guild of Orange Park. After the mural is painted, Dentiste plans to create a key map that visitors can find in local shops and restaurants to identify the native animals and plants featured in the mural. She plans to paint the mural in 2019.

Fuse Sacrifice Pilot Program to Begin in January

Starting January 1, the City electric department will implement a fuse sacrifice system for Circuit 2 of the City’s South Substation. This circuit primarily feeds the area around Melrose Avenue, the area located east of the CSX Railroad and south of SR 16 and the area located east of Orange Avenue.  

The City’s electrical system is currently running on a fuse save system. On this system, the entire circuit sees a blink during an intermittent event, leaving crews to inspect the entire circuit to locate the cause.

On a fuse sacrifice system, only the fuse and the power lines it’s connected to will lose power. Those homes affected by the outage will remain without power for longer, but fewer homes will be impacted during an outage.

Electric Director Steve Howard agreed, emphasizing that fuse sacrifice systems provides greater opportunities for the electric department to isolate and improve power interruptions by identifying the cause of the power outage.

The fuse sacrifice system of South Substation Circuit 2 is a pilot program introduced by City Manager Steve Kennedy during the November 13 City Council meeting and approved by the City Council through an emergency resolution.

The pilot program is in response to reports of numerous power blinks and outages within the area of South Substation Circuit 2 from residents. The City’s goal is to identify and remedy the cause of frequent blinks, or outages, in the area.

South Substation Circuit 2 won’t be the only area converting to a fuse sacrifice system. If this program proves successful in further reducing the number of blinks or outages, then the City plans to convert the entire service area of its electrical system to a fuse sacrifice system. More information will be released as reports of the South Substation Circuit 2 pilot program are presented to City Council.

City Council Nov. 13 Meeting Brief: Water/Wastewater Rates Increase

Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, Green Cove Springs – Green Cove Springs City Council passed the second and final reading to increase water and wastewater rates for commercial and residential properties, effective immediately.

This measure increases the monthly water rate by three percent and the wastewater rate by 17 percent. For the average customer using 3,500 gallons a month, this will add 35 cents to the monthly water bill and $4.06 to the monthly wastewater bill. These increases will match the increased use of both the City’s water and wastewater utilities, as well as directly pay back loans the city is currently using to improve both utility systems to handle the increased use.

Some of those improvements that were passed in the Nov. 13 meeting include designing and building new sewer lines to reroute the Cove Apartments and Cove Plaza from Lift Station #2, which is old and in disrepair, to US 17 South force main. This project will require surveying, permitting, blueprints and construction. The City Council approved $71,000 to Mittauer & Associates to design and bid the modifications for this project.

The City Council also approved a new vacuum truck for the Water Department at the cost of $359,961.62. This will help the water and wastewater crews safely repair water and sewage lines when needed. The truck currently used by the department has been in service for over eight years and nearing the need for replacement.

Water, sewer, reclaimed water and electric utilities at the Black Creek Village Development were also approved by City Council. While not located within city limits, the development is still in the City’s water and sewer utility service area. The city will now be responsible for the routine operation and maintenance of the utilities, while the developer will be responsible for establishing the utilities and maintenance for three years.

City Council also approved two projects to move electrical lines underground in two high-traffic areas within Green Cove Springs. The overhead electric line crossing Governors Creek at US 17 will be buried underground. The project design for these underground lines will be done by PowerServices. Seventy-Five percent ($94,500.00) of the project will be funded through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, provided through funds made available from Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, with the remaining 25 percent paid from the Electric Department fund. Once the designing and engineering portion of the project is completed, FEMA will re-evaluate the project to fund 75 percent of the construction costs through the grant.

The second project is burying electrical lines on CR-15A, where the First Coast Expressway will be built. These lines will be buried within the limits of the Expressway’s new right of way. PowerServices will also design this project. The cost of the project will be reimbursed by the FDOT.

City Manager Steve Kennedy proposed a pilot program for the city to switch to a fuse sacrifice system for Circuit 2 which is out of the Southside Substation of the City’s electrical system. The city is currently on a fuse save system, which impacts the entire circuit when a fault is detected. The fuse sacrifice approach will only shut down power to those on the line that the fuse is controlling to when a fault occurs. Kennedy said that this system will better pinpoint the origin of power outages for crews, and outages will affect fewer homes in the area when one happens. Once frequent causes of outages in the area are eliminated, the circuit will switch back to a fuse save system. The City Council passed an emergency resolution for the pilot program, with requests for monthly reports on the program’s progress. More information will be released to citizens as details on this pilot program are finalized.

Also at Kennedy’s proposal, City Council recommended to stop the sale of the city’s old fire station and to look into restructuring The Development Services office. Kennedy said that the building holds several antique emergency service vehicles and items for annual City and Police Department events that the City doesn’t have room for elsewhere if the property is sold. Kennedy also explained that restructuring of Development Services will make the City poised for future development and annexation with the opening of the First Coast Expressway.

Additional items passed include approving minutes from Aug. 14 and Aug. 21 Council Budget meetings and Aug. 21 and Sept. 4 City Council meetings, replacing the carpet of the first and second floor of the city hall lobby, approving the report for legal services for the Spring Park Project and Legal Report for Annexation, approving the Unaudited FY 2018 Revenues and Expenditures Report and the Quarterly Investment Report for the period ending on Sept. 30, 2018, approving the inclusion of LED lights in the City’s inventory as part of the standard for City streetlights, and approving amendments in the general fund, disaster fund, electric fund, water fund, wastewater fund, reclaimed water fund, and the special revenue building department fund operating budget for FY 2018.  

City Proposes Increase in Water and Wastewater Rates

Oct. 18, 2018, Green Cove Springs – City Council is in the process of approving an increase to water and wastewater rates for residential and commercial buildings.

Monthly water rates will increase by 3 percent and wastewater rates will increase by 17 percent. The increases are projected to bring the average customer bill up 35 cents for water and $4.06 for wastewater per month.

These increases are recommended to keep up with the increase in operating costs for the city’s water and wastewater utilities. The increase in wastewater is higher to pay back the loan for capital improvements to the City’s wastewater and reclaimed water systems, and money collected during this increase will be designated for funding the debt service on the capital improvement projects. Wastewater rates will continue to increase annually through 2021, with the city reviewing rates each year.

The ordinance for this increase passed the first hearing on Oct. 16. The City Council will have a second and final hearing during its next meeting on Nov. 13. If approved, the increases will take effect immediately after Nov. 13.  

City Council welcomes “Cottages on Cove” and makes Spring Park home to Food Truck Friday and upcoming City yoga program

Oct. 17, 2018, Green Cove Springs – City Council approved requested land use and zoning changes for “Cottages on Cove,” a residential development of 11 single-family homes, during its meeting on Oct. 16.

RaeLynn Homes, LLC, contractor for the development, requested to amend the future land use map for the property from Residential Low Density to Residential Medium Density, as well as rezone the property to a Planned Unit Development. “Cottages on Cove” will be located at 915 Bay Street, and take up a block surrounded by Tucker Street, Cove Street, Bay Street, and CSX railroad tracks and the Green Cove Springs Police Department building along Melrose Avenue.

Homes in the proposed development will be valued around $150,000, offering housing within the price range of young families interested in moving to Green Cove Springs.

Spring Park will also see more activity as City Council approved to move Food Truck Friday to the park through the end of 2019, allowing alcohol during the event and designating the City as an official sponsor. Beer and wine brought in coolers will be allowed in a marked “cooler zone” in Spring Park between 5 and 9 p.m. only during Food Truck Friday event dates.

Yoga classes will soon be held in the Pool Pavilion in Spring Park. City Council approved the newest addition to Parks and Recreation programming. Director Glee Glisson encourages citizens to keep an eye out for announcements as soon as the classes have a set schedule and instructor.

City to Begin Improvements on Spring Park Public Access Pier with $600,000 Grant

October 3, 2018, Green Cove Springs, FL – The City has begun the process of improvements to Spring Park Public Access Pier with the drafting of a contract with Legislative Line Item (LLI) Special Appropriations Grant Program.

The City received a $600,000 appropriation from the state legislature for improvements to the pier, including rehabilitating and rebuilding portions of the existing pier structure and floating docks, building docking facilities for large vessels, and building a wave attenuating system to protect the pier and floating docks from damage by river waves.

The wave attenuating system and improved floating docks will make it easier for boats to dock at the pier and for people to get on and off their vessel, as well as help minimize damage from river tides. The improved floating docks will also allow the pier to always be the same level with the water at both low and high tide. It will also help improve plant growth on the riverbed below the pier, which is vital to many species of wildlife on the river.

The contract will serve as the outline for the scope of the project and work. The City will enter into contracts with an engineer for the design of the pier improvements and a construction contractor to do the work, with city staff assigned to assist both. The City estimates that the project will be complete by October, 1 2019.

Residential Garbage Collection Fee to Increase by $1 after Oct. 1

September, 27, 2018, Green Cove Springs, FL – After Oct. 1, the monthly residential garbage and trash collection fee will increase from $18 to $19.

Green Cove Springs City Council approved the increase at the September 18 meeting. The increase in the fee was originally discussed during budget workshop meetings in August. The $1 increase will generate $35,000 in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year, which will assist in funding the city’s solid waste utility.

Garbage pickup will continue to be twice a week for all city residences, and yard trash and recycling pickup will continue to be once a week under this new fee.

City Approves $10 Million Loan for Electric System Improvements for the Next Three Years

September 6, 2018, Green Cove Springs - In April the Green Cove Springs City Council approved a $10.7 million loan from CenterState Bank in Jacksonville to complete major upgrades to the city’s electrical system. Hooper Corporation, the city’s electric contractor, gave a PowerPoint presentation to the City Council in August detailing the scope of projects within the $10.7 million loan. All of the projects—which are listed in Hooper Corporation’s PowerPoint presentation—are included in the Capital Improvement Projects of the city budget through fiscal year 2023.

The goal of the $10.7 million loan is to accelerate 10 years’ worth of electric utilities projects to be completed in 3 years. The projects listed will increase reliability of the city’s electric system through major repair, rehabilitation and upgrades.

Below are major projects that are included to be completed through the city’s $10.7 million loan:

Grounding Improvements: Grounding rods help redirect lighting strikes or any outside electrical surges to electric power poles directly to the ground. These rods are located on every two to three poles in an electric system. Many of these grounding rods in the city’s electric system are currently either missing or in need of repair. This project will be testing the grounding rods and equipment associated with them currently on poles, and the electric utility will make necessary repairs and replacements to this equipment based on testing results.

Pole Inspection Program: The city’s electric utility recently completed an inspection of 25 percent of the city’s electric power poles—a total of 1,400 poles—and are now in the process of replacing 77 poles that failed inspection. These replacements are expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The city’s electric utility will continue inspecting electric power poles in the city for the next three years—dividing inspections in sections of 1,400 poles—and replace poles that fail inspection. The city is also addressing any additional repairs or replacements that are highlighted in these pole inspections.

Underground Cable Replacement: Underground cable in some areas of the city are over 30 years old. Over the next three years, the city’s electric utility will be testing underground cable and replacing cable as needed.

Substation Inspections and Maintenance: This loan also jump starts annual thorough and detailed inspections of all four substations in the city. Based on the inspection results, the city’s electric utility will make replacements and repairs to its substations. These inspections will continue past the three-year timeline of loan projects.

SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) Improvements: Over the next three years, the city’s electric utility will be making SCADA improvements at its substations and various points in the city electric system. This will allow electric utility employees to monitor the system more regularly and be able to remotely access controls to electric equipment when needed. This will help the electric utility pinpoint problems in the electric system faster, which will reduce the duration of future power outages and how long it takes employees to locate and repair the source of an outage.

Fuse Coordination: The city’s electric utility will inspect fuses that connect sections of the city to the main power line, and will be replacing current fuses as well as installing new fuses throughout the system as needed. This will help minimize the scope of future power outages.

Lightning Arrestors: Lightning arresters are devices on electric power poles that protects insulation and conductors of the electric system from lightning strikes. The city’s electric utility will be inspecting the lightning arrestors installed in the city’s electric system and making replacements as needed, as well as analyzing the entire electric system to make sure that the city has an adequate number of lightning arrestors and that they are installed in the best locations.  

Pole Top Switch Inspections and Replacement: Pole top switches help to open and close the feed of electricity within the city’s electric system. The city’s electric utility will inspect these switches and make replacements as needed. This will help with faster response times in future outages.

County Road 209 Rebuild: A half-mile of power lines will be replaced with concrete poles and stronger cables that can withstand falling trees or tree limbs. As CR 209 is an area with a heavy tree canopy, this replacement will help minimize the damage of falling trees or limbs to power lines during severe storms.

Forbes Street Rebuilding: The city’s electric utility will be rebuilding a section of power lines on Forbes Street and either rebuilding or replacing old infrastructure. A portion of the street will also be converted from 13 KVa (kilovolt) to 23 KVa.

Pine and Cypress Rebuilding: The city’s electric utility will also be rebuilding and replacing two blocks of power cable on each street, for a total of four blocks of cable in this project.

Third Feed to Magnolia Point: The city’s electric utility will be installing a third feed in the Magnolia Point area to better distribute electricity in the area, as well as provide alternate routes of electricity to the north end of the city. This additional feed will also help relieve the currently overloaded circuit in the two feeds in Magnolia Point.  

Chapman Circuit 2 Feeder Rebuild: The city’s electric utility will be rebuilding circuits, replacing power lines and replacing and relocating poles as necessary from north to south on Roberts Street.

Highway 17 Rebuild: The city’s electric utility will be replacing power lines on Highway 17 over the next three years.

Conversion of Core City Voltage: The city’s electric utility will be converting the majority of core city customers (from Governors Creek to SR 16 East) from 13 KVa (kilovolts) to 23 KVa.

City Begins Projects Included in the $10.7 Million Loan for Electric Utility Improvements

City Council approved to start three electric utility projects during the month of September. All three projects are part of Electric Department’s $10.7 million Capital Improvements Plan Budget, starting in Fiscal Year 2019.

The projects include Oak St. Railroad Crossing Improvements, Roberts St. Rebuild, and the N. Pine Avenue and N. Cypress Avenue Project. The total contracted cost of all three projects is $770,829, with Hooper Corporation completing the work on all three. The cost of materials for all three projects is estimated at $120,000.

The Oak St. Railroad Crossing Improvements include replacing an old power line pole and improving connections to all six poles at the railroad crossing.

The Roberts St. Rebuild will replace power line poles and conductors on Roberts St. from Green Cove Ave. to Martin Luther King Blvd, a distance of over 1 mile. The project includes installing 24 new wood power line poles, 5 new 50kva transformers, adding lightning arrestors on all new poles, transferring all house service to the new poles, installing 21 new LED street lights, and removing 21 old power line poles, the wire connecting those poles, and all old transformers and streetlights.

The 800 and 900 blocks of N. Pine Ave. and N. Cypress Ave. Project will reconstruct overhead power lines on those blocks, including 11 power line poles on Pine Ave and 15 power line poles on Cypress Ave. The project also includes installation of one pole and five transformers on Pine Ave. and installation of six poles and four transformers on Cypress Ave.

Green Cove Springs New City Manager Starts Oct. 1

September 24, 2018, Green Cove Springs – Steve Kennedy starts his first day as City Manager of Green Cove Springs on Monday, Oct. 1. After City Council offered him the position at the end of August, Kennedy signed a three-year City Manager contract with the city in mid-September.

The City Council will formally introduce Kennedy at its October 2 meeting in the City Council Chambers of City Hall.

Steve Kennedy was born in Waycross, GA, and grew up in Washington, D.C., where his father worked at the Pentagon, before moving to Thomasville, GA, where he graduated high school. He received his bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting at Valdosta State University in 1975. He’s been involved in municipal government operations for over 38 years, including 22 years with Thomasville, GA, one year with Cartersville, GA, 13 years as city manager of Kennesaw, GA, and 3 years as city manager of Americus, GA, before coming to Green Cove Springs. He’s moved to Green Cove Springs with his wife Cheryl. They have two sons: Caleb, who is 28, and Mitchell, who is 26. Along with serving his community, Kennedy enjoys golfing and hunting.

City Manager Danielle Judd ends her time with the city on Thursday, September 27. To assist in transition of city management, Judd will continue to be employed by the city as a Special Advisor to the City Council until October 31, 2018. She will aid the new administration and City Council at their request.

Green Cove Springs Serves New Pickleball Program to Public

September 12, 2018, Green Cove Springs- Twice a week inside Thomas Hogans Memorial Gym laughter and cheering can be heard against the rhythmic pop of racquetball-style paddles lobbing what looks like large ping-pong balls over a tennis net.

It’s the sound of Green Cove Springs swinging into the growing sport of pickleball.

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It’s played on a tennis court with smaller boundaries, and players use a large paddle to hit a large, yellow plastic ball with holes over the tennis net to gain points. 

The program is started and led by Green Cove Springs Parks and Recreation Program Director Glee Glisson, a competitive pickleball player. With Tim Murphy, music minister of First Baptist Church in Middleburg, Glisson has competed and won several pickleball tournaments in both age and skill level brackets.

“If you want to be competitive, you can do it at all levels,” said Glisson. “You can play this sport as easy as you want or as competitive as you want.”

The program runs 10 a.m. to noon every Monday and Wednesday and is open to both beginner and competitive players. The city also provides pickleball equipment.

Started in August, the program has already attracted up to 25 people per class, with an average of 10 to 12 people per class. Sign up is on a first-come-first-serve basis at the start of each time block, and the program is open to ages 10 to 100 years old. 

For more information, contact Parks and Recreation Program Director Glee Glisson at 904-297-7500, ext. 3332.

Green Cove Springs City Council to Decide New City Manager This Week

Aug. 27, 2018, Green Cove Springs, FL - The four finalists for the city manager position will be going through a two-day final interview process this Thursday, Aug. 30, and Friday, Aug. 31.

During that two-day period, each candidate will be talking to members of the City Council and city leadership individually.

The interview process also includes a public Meet-and-Greet with all four candidates 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at the Clay County Council on Aging, 604 Walnut Street, Green Cove Springs. Refreshments will be provided. On Friday, Aug. 31, candidates will go through a final interview with the City Council in the City Hall Council Chambers, 321 Walnut Street, Green Cove Springs, from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. These final interviews will be open to the public, and the city will adjourn after making its final selection for the City Manager position.

The final four candidates for City Manager are Steve Kennedy from Americus, GA, Green Cove Springs Assistant City Manager Mike Null, Green Cove Springs resident Colin Groff, and Mike Renshaw from Winder, GA. Tad Davis dropped out of consideration for the position.

Police Chief Derek Asdot selected to train in the FBI National Academy

Aug. 21, 2018, Green Cove Springs - Green Cove Springs Police Chief Derek Asdot will be heading out to FBI Headquarters in Quantico, VA, this fall as one of 220 law enforcement leaders from around the world selected to participate in the FBI National Academy.

The academy will last 10 weeks—Oct.1 to Dec. 13—and is designed to equip local law enforcement managers with the knowledge and training of best practices in law enforcement to take back to their respective agencies at home. On top of a physical fitness component, the academy includes classes covering topics such as intelligence theory, terrorism and terrorist mindsets, management science, law, behavioral science, law enforcement communication, and forensic science.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to attend the prestigious FBI National Academy and learn the best practices in law enforcement from around the world and bring those skills back to the city of Green Cove Springs,” said Asdot. 

Asdot was nominated by the Jacksonville FBI Field Office to participate in the session this fall.

Plans for Asdot to be nominated and apply for the FBI National Academy have been in the works since he was appointed as Acting Police Chief by City Manager Danielle Judd in April 2017.

Lieutenant John Guzman will serve as Acting Chief of Police while Asdot participates in the FBI National Academy. 

City Begins Spring Park Improvements with $400,000 Grant

Green Cove Springs- City Council approved a $400,000 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant for improvements towards Spring Park. The grant is a matching grant and requires $200,000 from the city, either through general funds or an in-kind match.

The grant will fund several long-awaited renovations and upgrades to Spring Park. Projects include renovating a picnic pavilion, upgrading playground equipment, boardwalk, shuffleboard court and river overlook with fishing pier, extending trails along the river and building new additions such as a canoe/kayak launch, handicap accessible playground, historic replica lighting, and an overlook swing.

These renovations and additions are included in the adopted FY 2018-2022 Capital Improvement Plan and have been part of larger park improvements, which started with the renovation of the Spring Park pool and spring enclosure.

The City submitted a grant application to the Department of Environmental Protection in May 2017.

City adds School Resource Officers in Partnership with Clay County School Board

Green Cove Springs- City Council approved the interlocal agreement between Clay County School Board and the City of Green Cove Springs that would give $143,534 to the police department for two School Resource Officer positions.

The two officers will be split between Charles E. Bennett Elementary and Green Cove Springs Junior High School, with each assigned to a school. Green Cove Springs Police Chief Derek Asdot said that the officers filling the positions are tenured police officers. Both are receiving certification as School Resource Officers in June.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to place School Resource Officers in Charles E. Bennett Elementary and Green Cove Springs Junior High. We look forward to building upon our current relationship we have with our students and fostering new relationships,” said Asdot. “Thank you to Clay County School Board and Superintendent Davis, as well as the City of Green Cove Springs, City Manager Danielle J. Judd and our mayor and City Council for making this possible.”

The Clay County School Board voted to add School Resource Officers in every public high school and junior high school and a trained School Safety Officer in every public elementary school in early May. This is to comply with a bill Governor Rick Scott signed into law in early March increasing funds to require school districts to put a School Resource Officer in every school in the wake of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.