A look at governmental action from around the Gulf Coast.
“Fusion center” in works regionally
SOUTHWEST FLORIDA — Local law enforcement agencies and emergency services personnel from 10 Southwest Florida counties are piecing together an information hub, called a “fusion center,” to coordinate and collect crime data throughout the region.
Initially, the center will focus on law enforcement, public safety and public health hazards. The center will serve Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, Glades, Sarasota, DeSoto, Highlands, Manatee and Okeechobee counties. There are 72 fusion centers in the U.S., including in Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee.
In the works for about two years, Southwest Florida's center is an agency of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and will be headquartered in Fort Myers, though the location has not been disclosed. It's expected to be operational within six months. Fusion center employees support the investigating agency, and won't investigate crimes in the field.
Redevelopment incentives planned
MANATEE COUNTY — Interim Planning Department Director John Osborne, citing difficulties with the county's current development code, is proposing new concepts to create redevelopment of key areas of the county and improve the development review process.
Osborne recently gave county commissioners and planning commissioners a broad overview of his department's plan that could transform the county core into a more modern, walk-able corridor. County staff is using contemporary community planning concepts, information from several public surveys and recommendations from a development task force to shape the plan.
U.S. 41 would serve as the backbone of urban redevelopment from the Manatee-Sarasota county line to the Manatee River. According to a county press release, the central core along the highway could feature mixed-use buildings while reducing traffic and creating more efficiencies for government services. Areas surrounding the core would step-down building height and intensity for a gradual descent to residential areas.
Osborne also suggested completely revamping the county's land development code to make it a more modern and organized set of rules with incentives for development. A series of public workshops on the proposals are planned for the coming year.
Building services moves downtown
TAMPA — Hillsborough County's Building Services Division has closed its main customer service location in the NetPark business complex and is moving to County Center to consolidate its services. The new location features a comprehensive, one-stop service center for residents and contractors.
The NetPark location closed Nov. 16, and the new County Center location on the 19th Floor at 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa re-opens Nov. 24. The building services division main number — (813) 272-5600 — will continue to be answered.
Once the division re-opens in County Center, the following services and staff will be available: the building official, residential and commercial plans review and permitting, sign permitting, contractor licensing and code compliance and hazard mitigation. The south county satellite office will continue to offer the same services of residential plans review and permitting, and the division's inspection staff will be housed there.
As part of the consolidation effort, the planning and growth management department will open a consolidated customer service one-stop center on the 19th floor.
Joyner chairs Pinellas delegation
PINELLAS COUNTY — State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, has been elected chairman of the 14-member Pinellas County legislative delegation. Joyner, 66, whose18th District includes parts of Pinellas, Hillsborough and Manatee counties, had been vice chairwoman. She succeeds Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater. Joyner was elected to the Senate in 2006 and was in the House from 2000-2006. An attorney, she chairs the Joint Administrative Procedures Committee, is vice chair of the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee, vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, and serves on the Policy and Steering Committee on Commerce and Industry among other committee assignments. The delegation's next public meeting on local bills is at 9 a.m. Dec. 14 at St. Petersburg City Hall.
Locals looking at city manager slot
CAPE CORAL — Two local residents, former Mayor Eric Feichthaler and retired financial executive Gary King, are two names being tossed around as possible successors to Terry Stewart, who resigned as the city manager earlier this month following the election of new Mayor John Sullivan and three councilmen. Sullivan, who campaigned to reduce spending, and the council may consider spending $20,000 or more on a national search for Stewart's successor.
The Tourist Development Council meets at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 23 in the county commission chambers, Third Floor, W. Harmon Turner Building, 3301 East Tamiami Trail, Naples.
The county commission will hear departments' strategic plan presentations at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24 in the commission chambers, 2120 Main St., Fort Myers.
The Business Development Task Force meets at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24 at North Port Health Park, 15121 Tamiami Trail, North Port.