We want to know what we think we all ought to know, so we occasionally ask the people who do.

South Florida Avenue Road Diet 

Chuck Barmby

Business Development & Transportation Manager

Community & Economic Development

City of Lakeland

Can you tell us when (if) you will start counting cars on (and off) South Florida Avenue again?

FDOT’s counts collected back in January and February provide a data base line for future analysis and the current plan is for the City (CED, Traffic Operations and LPD) to work with FDOT to conduct volume and speed counts on the surrounding street network on an as-needed basis to address specific concerns that are raised during the test period (expected to formally begin on October 1st).  

 

For Florida Avenue and surrounding State Highways, Traffic Operations has the ability to evaluate travel time in real-time and is doing that on a 24/7 basis.  

 

The next big step in the testing of the Florida Avenue corridor will begin with the start of school on August 24th and we expect comments and questions to come up in the days immediately following the start of the fall semester.

READ MORE HERE  - History of the project
Lake Morton

During my regular morning rounds I recently noticed two installations like this: one at Orange Park Avenue and one on the opposite side of the lake at Kentucky Avenue.

Soooo ...

I sent the photo and the question to Heath Frederick, the City's Public Works Director, hoping to get the story. And, in spite of the fact that this was a Saturday, the email exchange here shows what I think of as a typical timely and informative response from our city officials.

The presentation was made to the City Commission at their regular meeting on March 2nd.

Heath Frederick, Public Works Director, City of Lakeland, 863.834.6040, Heath.frederick@lakelandgov.net

Saturday, June 27

 

8:55 AM

Heath, 

Good morning! Just wondering if this is in your realm. 

Cheers, Michael 

9:36 AM

To be honest I have no idea what that is but I will find out and let you know shortly.  

Thanks, 

11:35 AM

Found out what it is, a temporary stormwater auto sampler for Lake Morton study.  They will be removed in a few months. Exactly what it does I am not sure but plan to do more studying. We are doing a study on Lake Morton to see what steps we can take to improve the water quality.  

Employee Attrition

As the FY2020 budget was being finalized, City Manager Tony Delgado indicated that he would allow natural attrition to reduce the city's employee population  -  when and where it was appropriate  -  as a measure to reduce costs and/or reallocate funding. As the first quarter closed we asked how it was working.

 

Can you update the employee population and compensation data compared to the October 1 numbers?

Michael Brossart, City of Lakeland Finance Director

You can see the increases and decreases by department.  I would note that the General Fund netted 1 new fulltime position and decreased by 3 part-time positions.  Citywide we went up 4 fulltime and down 6 part-time positions.  The payroll numbers will not show a decrease as over 50% of the employees were eligible (but must earn a qualiying review) 2.5% merit (Step) increase and all employees received a 2% cost of living increase.  The increase in positions were driven by things such as:

 

Amazon coming into the Airport and the requirement for [evening] staffing 

Stormwater ... as a way to maintain the lakeshores after the State, County and FWC determined that they could no longer provide that service

Water and Wastewater as a result of increased maintenance requirements

Much of the position changes in the General Fund were movement between divisions (I.e. Parks & Rec transferred a position to Finance).  The net new position in the General Fund was an Emergency Operations Manager for the City. The cost for this position will be borne by all departments of the City and not just the General Fund. 

Page G-20 of the FY’20 annual budget.

South Florida Avenue Road Diet 

We deduce that the freshly installed devices on South Florida Avenue and the Lake Morton neighborhood are part of the process to determine how traffic will re-direct during the road diet's test period. Yes?

Chuck Barmby

Transportation and Development Review Manager for the City of Lakeland

You are correct that the traffic counters are being used to collect baseline data from which to determine traffic changes related to the upcoming South Florida Avenue Road-Diet Test. 

 

[The Florida Department of Transportation] is funding these counts at approximately 90 locations on the east and west sides of Florida Avenue from Beacon Road to Downtown. The counters are collecting vehicle volumes, speeds and classifications (cars, trucks, etc.).

 

The City’s Traffic Operations Division has also funded the installation of “Bluetooth” devices on signals on the Florida Avenue, Sikes Boulevard and Bartow Road corridors, which are already producing real-time information regarding travel times and delays on Florida Avenue within the Dixieland and Downtown areas.

READ MORE HERE

Conditional Use Permits

Is it possible to adapt or amend the rules regarding neighbor notifications for conditional use permits? The current voluntary notification, with a range of 250, feet has proven unhelpful and inadequate. I propose that in the case of a designated historic district that the notice be provided to the entire neighborhood, which is impacted by all economic development activity anywhere in it, and that it be mandatory. A message to the formal association should be sufficient.

Tony Delgado, City Manager

As a courtesy not required by Florida law, we currently mail out notification letters to all property owners located within 500 feet for any zoning/land use applications and 250 feet for any CUP applications. This has been standard practice for the department since at least the 1990s. If a request is likely to be controversial, we always try to include any active neighborhood associations that we are aware of in the mailing list.  

Historically, we have not mailed out letters to every property owner in a neighborhood due to practical concerns pertaining to staff time and printing/postage costs. While the 250’ notification radius for CUP applications is somewhat arbitrary, if increased we would need to apply to all property owners, not just those located in the historic districts, as a matter of equity. To account for the additional costs incurred, we would also likely need to increase the fees for such applications.   

Proposed 20-002; approving a conditional use to allow for the construction of a garage apartment on property located at 829 Pennsylvania Avenue (1st reading 01-06-2020) 

WHEREAS, an application has been filed by Alton Masters, for a conditional use to allow the construction of a garage apartment on property located at 829 Pennsylvania Avenue, as more particularly described on Attachment “A” and graphically depicted on Attachments “B,” “C,” and “D,” attached hereto; and

WHEREAS, on December 17, 2019, the Planning and Zoning Board held a public hearing on the request of the applicant to have such conditional use granted; and

WHEREAS, the Planning and Zoning Board approved the application on December 17, 2019, and recommended to the City Commission that the conditional use be granted;

READ MORE HERE

E-mail the commissioners

But one at a time, please!

 

For the most part, when recipients open an email that includes others they are less inclined to take it personally. Make sure your message resonates by sending it to each commissioner separately.

Scott Franklin - Stephanie Madden -  Sara McCarley - Chad Mcleod

Bill Mutz - Bill Read - Phillip Walker

Each of these noble citizens represents all the rest of us. The four geographic designations - Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast, etc. - apply only to the residency requirements for commissioners, not to their constituents. Bill Read, for instance, lives in the city's northeast quadrant and is likely to be more in tune with the businesses and neighborhoods in that area, but serves us all as our representative to the city management and staff.

It will always help to send your message to City Manager Shawn Sherouse  because it's his job to implement whatever projects, resolutions, and ordinances the Commission proposes in response to our communication.

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State legislators representing Lakeland

Representative Colleen Burton

Senator Kelli Stargell