St. Augustine officials push top priorities in Tallahassee

Since the Florida Legislature began its session, the city of St. Augustine has been watching.

St. Augustine officials are pushing for infrastructure funding as well as tracking about 40 bills to see what might become law and impact life locally, including bills threatening community redevelopment agencies.

The session kicked off on March 7, and St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver and City Manager John Regan went to Tallahassee on Tuesday to make pitches for projects that would benefit Davis Shores, West Augustine and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.

“Those are top priorities for this season,” Shaver said over the phone from Tallahassee, as she and Regan waited for another meeting. “We’re going to work it as hard as we can possibly work it.”

The city is asking for $510,750 from the state to retrofit stormwater outfalls in Davis Shores with 17 “backflow prevention valves,” according to a city document. The city says that would get rid of tidal flooding that can cause sewer overflows. The rest of the funds – $170,250 – would come from local government. Tidal flooding happens about 12-16 times a year, and the project, if funded, is estimated to be finished in May 2018.

“We had been experiencing nuisance flooding in the neighborhood for years,” said Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline, who has lived in Davis Shores. “It has increased. There’s a fix. Staff has identified it and is ready to build.”

The city is also asking the state for $679,500 to help build a ­sanitary sewer system along West 5th Street from South Volusia Street to South Nassau Street, which would improve water quality by getting rid of 28 septic tanks. The project would also allow workforce housing to be built on 26 parcels, according to the city. The rest of the cost, which is the same amount, would be paid by local government funding.

At the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and nearby areas, the city wants to help prevent tidal flooding on public streets by making changes such as elevating a sewage pump station and adding valves to prevent backups of stormwater. The cost would be $487,550 local.

The city is also tracking bills filed that could affect local regulations and organizations, including legislation focused on community redevelopment agencies.

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