Tallahassee City Commission discusses airport improvements, TPD site selection

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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 10, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Tallahassee City Commission meeting on Wednesday, July 10, included airport improvements, an update on the TPD site selection process, and a decision about funding for the South City Foundation.

Airport Improvements
Improvements are coming to the Tallahassee Airport in the form of multiple grants from the FAA and the Florida Department of Transportation.

The airport will receive more than two million dollars in runway reconstruction alone; that work is scheduled to begin in the Fall of 2020.

The Tallahassee Airport is also looking at the design of an International Passenger Processing Facility, capable of processing up to 200 passengers per hour.

Director David Pollard said the customs facility would help reach the ultimate goal of establishing a foreign trade zone.

"Some of the ideas that are floating around right now are to take the current facility and develop the underside of it. So in effect international passengers arrivals would come in and if they were international they would go down, process through customs, and come back up where they could meet their parties or take advantage of our ground transportation," said Pollard.

The fully-built customs facility is estimated to cost 25 million dollars.

The airport is also receiving a grant for renovations to the airport terminal beyond the TSA security checkpoint, including new flooring, carpet, gate area electrical improvements, and restroom improvements.

Pollard explained that this is phase three of the terminal rehabilitation.

"Terrazzo down the middle, new carpet in the gate areas. Also the powered seats that people can plug in and charge their mobile devices," said Pollard. "Just a much better atmosphere for our business travelers and travelers in general."

The airport also received $400,000 as part of a multi-year effort to replace eight passenger loading bridges; the current ones date back to 1989. Each bridge is estimated to cost about 1 million dollars.

The City Commission also unanimously voted to discontinue complimentary parking passes at the Tallahassee Airport and authorized the City Manager to create an Airport Policy on the guidelines for the use of parking passes.

TPD Site Selection Process Update
68 sites were submitted for consideration as the new TPD headquarters; only 51 of those were large enough.

10 sites are now moving forward.

They include, in order: the Northwood Centre, the Governor's Square, the current TPD headquarters, South City Head Start, the Tallahassee Mall, 1625 Apalachee Parkway (Dick's Sporting Goods, Toys 'R' Us/PetSmart Center), the Winn Dixie/Magnolia Retail Center, the DCF Headquarters, TowneSouth, and the COT Wastewater treatment plant.

The short-list of 10 properties will move forward; City staff will contact property owners and request public input next.

After public input on each of the 10 properties is gathered, the City Commission will identify 3 final sites.

With the 3 final sites, City Staff will again conduct community meetings and develop a concept for each site and in-depth technical analysis.

The City Commission will then select a final site and negotiate the purchase price.

The schedule includes design in 2020, construction in 2021, and move-in in 2023.

During the process of selecting a site, City Staff requested authorization to evaluate the short-term use of buildings in the Northwood Center, whether it is selected for the Public Safety Campus or not.

One public speaker requested that the City not build a new public safety campus; he said TPD is making do where it is now.

The Northwood Centre scored the highest on the criteria; it lost points for asbestos on site. It earned points for the lack of wetlands or a body of water nearby, its proximity to traffic signals and major roads, and the ability to use public transportation from the site.

Governor's Square ranked second; it lost points for asbestos on site, and it earned points for its proximity to a 4 lane highway and a traffic signal, as well as its location in a non-residential area.

TPD's current headquarters ranked third on the list, losing points for its distance from other city functions, and earning points for the lack of asbestos and contamination on site.

The South City Head Start location ranked fourth on the list; it also lost points for contamination and asbestos on site, but earned points for its location in an opportunity zone.

The Tallahassee Mall ranked fifth, losing points for contamination and asbestos on site, and earning points for multiple entrances and exits, and its non-residential surroundings.

Purpose Build Communities
The City Commission authorized the City Manager in 2017 to work with Purpose Built Communities Inc. to designate Tallahassee as a project site for the community revitalization program.

The group uses a revitalization strategy using mixed-income housing and improvements of health and wellness, calling for the creation of a "Community Quarterback" organization to lead project efforts.

The South City Foundation has been structured to perform the functions of the "community quarterback" organization.

South City Foundation representatives requested $100,000 in City funding support, which was approved unanimously by the commission.

Leon County also provided $75,000 in funding and recommended $25,000 from Children's Services Council at its meeting on Tuesday, July 9.

Other Consent Agenda Items
The City settled the claim of Leroy Gammons for $160,000.

Gammons was driving in September of 2016, when he was stopped on Old St. Augustine Road behind a vehicle turning left. A City bus driver rear-ended Gammons' vehicle. Gammons required an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at the C3-4 location of his spine; he incurred $127,000 in medical expenses.

That settlement will be paid from the Risk Management funds.

Another item requested approval for the award and execution of primary and secondary contracts for distribution transformers. Those transformers are utilized by the City's electric utility.

The total estimated annual cost would be $1,306,000, and $5,180,000 over the term of the contract.

The initial period is three years, and staff is authorized to extend the contracts for two one-year extensions.

In addition, the City awarded the term contract for substation battery testing services for the City's utilities; the expense would be $200,000 during the five year term.

At Wednesday's meeting, the City accepted an Honor Wall donation by Paul Davis Restoration of Tallahassee to the City of Tallahassee Fire Department.

The donated memorial would honor fallen firefighters; Paul Davis Restoration would absorb the construction material and labor costs. The estimated value of the memorial is $33,591.

Re-appointments to Committees
The Downtown Improvement Authority had two seats to be reappointed: Cynthia Tunnicliff and Claudia Davant.

The terms for both will expire in 2022.

The Affordable Housing Advisory Committee also requested three appointments: Julian Smith, Jovita Woodrich, and James McShane.

The terms for all of those appointments will expire in 2022, and it will be the last term for each of these appointees.

The Planning Commission had a seat that expired in June; staff requested the City Commission's consideration.

Seat #2 was formerly held by J. Keit Dantin. Staff recommended Donald Gray to be appointed; his term will expire in June 2022, and he will be eligible for one more term.