BELLEAIR BEACH – They take their seats at a makeshift desk in the garage of a single-family home at 1001 Cedar Street. Cardboard covers the windows, metal folding chairs line a wall, and the City Clerk types away as Belleair Beach City Council members speak and debate about current issues using wireless microphones hanging from their necks like odd medallions (apparently they televise this absurdity).
For about a year now, the City of Belleair Beach has conducted business from a small (roughly 1300 square foot) residential home.
Originally published in Barrier Islands Gazette
Cavalli, a 36-year-old public servant, says of his job description, “If it breaks around the city from the streets to the computers, that’s me!”
“At first, we were going to knock it down and make a storm water retention area out of it.” Cavalli said of the temporary building.
But when leaks and roof damage caused the city to begin seeking alternative housing, the most inexpensive answer was sitting right next door.
Said Cavalli, “We had the little building. So, the logical choice was to take the single-family house and bring it up to code. We did it all in-house using our own employees and some volunteers. We did it together.”
The City of Belleair Beach, which had been conducting its business from various administrative buildings and a large octagonal edifice on the corner of Cedar Drive and Causeway Blvd., was in obvious need of a new city hall.
“When rains would come, we would have rains coming down the ballast into my office,” said Cavalli.
So, Belleair Beach had its dilapidated city hall demolished by Sonny Glasbrenner, Inc., a commercial and residential building demolition company located in Clearwater. They commissioned St. Petersburg architecture firm, Harvard Jolly, Inc., to draw up the plans. And, on September 30th 2008 construction began.
“We pulled the permits on September 12th and we started shortly after that,” said Eric Brooks, project superintendent with Honors Contractors, Inc.
Belleair Beach Community Center nearing completion
Not only will it be a place for city lawmakers to hang their hats, but the new Belleair Beach Community Center will be a source of income for the city as well. The facility will be available for community events, weddings, etc.
Adjoining the property is a city park and tennis courts. Also, a large pavilion will be erected next to the shore of the inter-coastal waterway.
The beautiful 10,000 square foot structure will come equipped with a large conference room for city legislation, an AV room for audio and visual, and a catering room with direct outside access. There will also be offices to accommodate the City Clerk, City Manager, Public Works, Code Enforcement and Pinellas County Sherriff, plus, a room to house the telephones and computer servers, and large file room located in the very center of the building that will be a safe haven for records and computers in times of hurricanes.
When asked when the city plans to move in to the new building, Cavalli replied, “It depends on when we receive our certificate of occupancy, but we hope to be in by September or October.”