Wishing all a new year that keeps hope, love, family, friends and prosperity central in our lives. There will be things that test us, as well as wonderful new surprises. That's the beauty of a new year. More than ever, we must unify as brothers and sisters, keeping divisiveness at bay. Inclusiveness and respect for one another will prevail...as it always does.
Let's get started.
I very much look forward to working hard alongside the other City Council Members, City Manager O'Reilly and his staff, and you to make good things happen here in the City of Gulfport. Even though we are in the middle of major infrastructure work -- sewer, streets and alleys -- we must also address other major systems such as aging water pipes and city buildings. In addition, before the next rainy season (a short five months away), we must implement an aggresive inclement weather emergency management plan that prevents discharge of contaminated waters into our city streets, Clam Bayou and Boca Ciega Bay. It is my opinion that Gulfport needs more attention and accountability from our neighboring city (e.g., sewer infrastructure decisions that directly impacts us) and Pinellas County.
Gulfport is well known for its hospitality, festivals, our wonderful restaurants and merchants, and other businesses that keep visitors coming to us. It is important that we pay attention to and address needs such as parking, accessible recreational waters, clean parks, sidewalks and beach. Partnering with terrific organizations and associations is one of our best assets. To better allocate funds and serve our partners, I addressed at the August 16th City Council meeting the importance of better cost-sharing between the city and event organizers.
Gulfport will continue to ensure resident and visitor safety by keeping our Police and Fire Departments well-staffed, with funds that enable reliable equipment. I thank the City Manager and the Chiefs for their continued commitment to keeping us safe.
I personally want to continue focusing on resources for both our seniors and our youth. I am pleased with how City Staff is committed to making sure programs, events and supportive programs are accessible to meet the current and future needs of both seniors and youth. I think moving forward we need to take inventory of unmet needs and seek ideas on how best to fund and address. For example, I advocated for the relocation of the skate board park to the Rec Center, including suggesting a funding source to help defray costs. In addition, as we seek to enhance the Senior Center, we must get ideas and suggestions directly from Senior that use it every day.
The items above are just a few examples of focus areas for 2017. Obviously there are other areas we must and will address. As early as April 2017, we will begin the FY2018 Gulfport Opertating Budget discussions. From April through September, you'll have a chance to provide us feedback and suggestions to keep Gulfport functioning and a pretty cool place to reside.
Thank you...and again, Happy New Year.
Gulfport City Council Member, Ward 3
p.s., Please see next article on CY 2017 for more details on key priorities.