The Ponte Vedra Beach Municipal Service District board elected new officers and delegated areas of responsibility at its meeting Jan. 9 at the Ponte Vedra Beach Library.
“This is always a big deal,” said Gary Jurenovich, who has served as chairman the past two years.
To start the appointment process, Jurenovich nominated John Wegl to replace him as chairman, and all trustees concurred. Wegl, who most recently served as vice chairman, will lead the board for the second time in his MSD tenure. His goal for the position over the next two years is straightforward.
“Keep the MSD as a premier community,” he said.
The board appointed Jurenovich as vice chairman and Murle Harrison again as treasurer.
The board then agreed upon areas of responsibility, which Jurenovich said trustees hold for the duration of their time in office. Jurenovich will again manage the MSD’s relationship with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and oversee roads and bridges and street signs and poles. Trustee Greg Wong will continue to lead communications, including the MSD website and a new newsletter, and will now lead emergency services, which is a new committee assignment for the board.
New trustees Kitty Switkes, Brad Wester and John Cellucci all accepted committee assignments. Switkes will oversee landscaping and beach renourishment projects, while Wester will be responsible for the MSD’s beach accesses and relationship with Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA). Cellucci will manage the MSD’s relationships with Beaches Energy and Republic Services. The three new trustees were elected to the board in August and sworn into office at the Dec. 12 MSD meeting.
Rumble stripe removalIn other MSD business, Wegl reported that the Florida Department of Transportation will soon contract with a company to remove the rumble stripes that stretch from Mickler’s Landing Beach to Vilano on State Road A1A. Once the contract is awarded, said Wegl, the contractor will have 30 to 60 days to gather materials and then 20 additional days to complete the project. The project is estimated to conclude in February or early March. Since FDOT installed the rumble stripes during summer 2016, several residents have complained about the noise they cause, as well as they safety concern they present for cyclists.
The MSD board also voted to extend its contract with Republic Services until 2024. Under the terms of the new contract, the MSD will pay the waste disposal company $11 per house per month for its services instead of its previous rate of $8.61. Last year, the rate increased to $8.61 from $7. Wegl said the MSD has no choice but to sign the contract because St. Johns County has a franchise agreement with Republic Services.
“We either go with Republic or do without,” Wegl said.
Jurenovich said the increase in cost is due to an increase in drivers’ salaries at Republic Services. It’s a small increase per week that is worth it for the services, he said.
Residents who live in the MSD receive side door pickup and second day pickup services.
“Next to the sheriff, I think that’s the most important reason people choose to live in the MSD,” he said. “I don’t want to lose the services over 55 cents a week.”
Wester provided an update on the MSD’s beach accesses. He said the county plans to repair all beach accesses damaged by Hurricane Matthew by April 1 with help from FEMA. New beach access signs, said Wester, will be installed over the next few weeks.
Wester also said three proposals have been submitted to the county to install pavers at the beach accesses located at 311 Ponte Vedra Blvd., 351 Ponte Vedra Blvd. and 401 Ponte Vedra Blvd. Wester said these projects, which each cost between $8,000 and $10,000, are privately funded by residents. The county doesn’t want to move forward with these projects, said Wester, without the blessing of the MSD.
Switkes concluded the meeting with an update on the dune restoration project at Mickler’s Landing Beach. As of Jan. 5, she said, only a few residents had committed to a contract with AJ Johns, the construction firm hired by the county to manage the voluntary dune restoration project.
“The reason why the residents are balking is because the price of sand has come in at close to $1,200 a truck,” said Switkes. “There are a lot of unhappy residents down there.”
Switkes also attributed the disdain to the complexities related to the permissive use agreement with the county and the contingency fee that was added to the cost of the project.
“They’re blaming the county because the county got involved with Mickler’s, making them pay an enormous amount of money to get the sand in there,” Switkes said.
Switkes also noted that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has yet to approve the project’s desired sand source, which is causing additional frustration and increasing the cost of the current truckloads of sand.
Consequently, Switkes said, some residents are still attempting to bring in sand, but they’re not using A.J. Johns or the staging area at Mickler’s because they’re frustrated with the way in which that project was organized.
The next MSD meeting will be Feb. 13 at the Ponte Vedra Beach Library.