CLEARWATER — Pinellas County commissioners unanimously approved agreements March 8 for a proposed Pinellas County Jail Security Center and Entrance. The first agreement was with Creative Contractors Inc. for construction management services at risk and the second was with Williamson Dacar Associates Inc. for design services.
The complexity of the project requires Creative Contractors and Williamson Dacar Associates to work together to program, design, price and build the center, using a construction manager’s risk delivery process, according to a staff report.
The project includes the demolition of two “mini buildings” and a “Barracks A” to make way for a new security and entry center at the 49th Street Jail in Clearwater. The purpose of the new 11,300 square foot facility is to ensure that all visitors, such as attorneys, clergy, bond agency employees and the public, are properly vetted. Prisoner release functions are also part of the facility.
The new center will have a public lobby, public property window, bond, security check with inmate release. A new 500 square foot building with three entrance lanes and two closed traffic lanes covered by an awning will be used for vehicle screening. Seventy-two new public parking spaces with 103 new secure parking spaces are also included.
The project comprises two phases. The first phase contains the pricing and design of the program services. The second phase includes the development of the guaranteed maximum price for the construction of the project as well as the construction documents, specifications and schedules.
The agreement with Creative Contractors as construction manager at risk during the pre-construction phase provides for the payment of $45,000 and a term of 730 consecutive calendar days. Williamson Dacar Associates’ deal includes a 730-day “upheaval limit” of $796,308.
The construction cost is estimated at $12 million.
The commissioners were reluctant to approve the project and postponed the decision from the February 22 meeting due to the unexpected cost. Mostly planned to go out and visit the existing facility to check the need for anything new.
Commissioner Karen Seel was concerned because the facility was not included in the original master plan for court and jail projects Penny budgeted for Pinellas. The problem now is finding extra money to pay for the project, especially at a time when costs are rising. Staff are already trying to stretch funds from the Penny for Pinellas collections. Fortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has not affected sales tax collections as significantly as feared.
About $7 million of the $12 million had already been budgeted from funds earmarked for courts and prisons, as agreed when voters passed the sales tax referendum in 2017. The rest of the money will have to come from “general penny income”. according to County Administrator Barry Burton.
Penny for Pinellas is a voter-approved 1-cent sales tax used primarily to pay for infrastructure projects. In 2017, voters agreed to use 11.3% (about $60 million) of the money raised from 2020 to 2030 for courts and prisons.
Joe Lauro, director of administrative services, told commissioners the money to close the funding gap could come from savings on a helicopter hanger, which was also part of Penny’s budgeted funds for Pinellas for the sheriff’s office. . This money was not part of the total allocated to courts and prisons.
Seel requested that staff prepare a presentation to update the committee on the status of all Penny for Pinellas projects and the budget.
In other matters, commissioners approved a resolution that expands and modifies the county’s COVID-19 emergency rental assistance program, as requested by the city of St. Petersburg. The city would like to include additional income-eligible households who are at risk of homelessness or housing instability due to COVID-19.
The county received more than $21 million and the city received just over $8 million in a first round of federal funding for emergency housing assistance. In a second round of funding, the county received $24 million and the city received over $6 million.
The county and city worked together and began offering programs to help households unable to pay rent and utilities on March 31, 2021. The city has since spent all of its money; however, the county still has funds available. The resolution will allow the county and the city to work together to provide additional assistance to residents of St. Petersburg, including those living in hotels and motels, who were not previously eligible.
Commissioners have approved the acceptance of a grant agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Florida Communities Trust Program to purchase the Gladys Douglas Hackworth property in Dunedin.
The county and city submitted a joint grant application in December 2020 for a $2.4 million grant to help pay for the purchase of the property. Burton told commissioners the grant was a “several phases and pieces” that will help reimburse the county and city for expenses incurred while purchasing the environmentally sensitive land.
He said the acquisition turned out to be a good investment. Thanks to the grants, all but about $800,000 of the money spent will be recovered for the county and the city.
“We took a risk to get the property and the community rallied. It has largely paid off,” he said.
Additional grants should arrive by the end of the year; however, Burton stressed that more spending is also expected as work continues to preserve the property and turn it into a park for the public to enjoy.
Commissioners also approved a First Amendment to a public transportation grant agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation for the design and construction of new taxiways at the 130-acre Airco site adjacent to Florida International Airport. St. Pete-Clearwater, PIE call letters.
The first grant agreement of $200,000 was approved in April 2021. The first amendment is for $2 million. The grant money will be used to design and build two taxiways, which will connect the airfield of Airco and PIE.
Commissioners made two changes before approving the Tourism Development Council’s recommendations for changes to the Elite Events Funding Program guidelines. The TDC provides funding to major events that meet the eligibility criteria based on the number of attendees or nights spent at local accommodations.
Seel opposed a change to increase the maximum funding for category one from $125,000 to $200,000. The commission agreed to change the maximum funding to $150,000. The consensus was that most events would apply to the max whether they needed to or not. The stewards felt that $150,000 was enough for the category.
The commissioners also hesitated to revise the thresholds for overnight stays and attendance.
Revisions approved included renaming the cultural heritage category to category four, adding a new category five for first-time events, and eliminating the TDC Elite Committee, which will be replaced by Staff.
An agreement was approved with the Pinellas Ex Offender Reentry Coalition to administer the sterile needle and syringe exchange program designed to reduce the spread of communicable diseases.
The coalition will be responsible for individual needle exchange and will offer educational materials on communicable diseases, on-site counseling and referrals for treatment, and provide emergency opioid overdose treatment kits.
Suzette Porter is the Pinellas County Editor of TBN. She can be contacted at [email protected]