Title: St. Augustine Historic District Strategic Plan Steering Committee meeting report
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00091502/00007
 Material Information
Title: St. Augustine Historic District Strategic Plan Steering Committee meeting report
Uniform Title: St. Augustine Historic District Strategic Plan Steering Committee meeting report
Physical Description: Newspaper
Language: English
Creator: Facilities Planning and Construction, University of Florida
Publisher: Facilities Planning and Construction, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: December 16, 2008
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Bibliographic ID: UF00091502
Volume ID: VID00007
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Meeting Report: December 16, 2008

St. Augustine Historic District Strategic Plan Steering Committee and Public Forum

5:30 PM -7:30 PM
Flagler College: Virginia Room, 2nd Floor, Ringhaver Student Center, St. Augustine


Members present:
Michael Gannon
Chris Silver

Members absent:

Others present:
Linda Dixon
Phil McDaniel
Susan Parker
Tom Scofield
Leslee Keys
Marilyn Wise
B. J. Kalaidi
Peter Rumpel
Catherine McAuliff
Bill Pressley

Gordon Wilson
John Regan
Roy Graham

Glenn Hastings
Tracy Upchurch

Ed Poppell
Kathy Deagan

Roy Hunt

Carol Walker
Ken Smith
Jess Childre
Chris Newman
Harold Barrand
Jock Ochiltree
Jerry Dickey
Maury Keisse
Dwight Hines
Maureen Ortagus
Tom Moriarity

Dave Sweeney
Jeremy Marquis
George Gardner
Catherine Culver
Randy Lewis
Irene Arriola
Jill Ziebell
Carl Halbirt
Hal Holton
Don Wallis

Bill Leary
Nancy Sikes-Kline
Toni Wallace
Tom Caswell
Jewel Grutna
Clay Scay
Walter O'Kon
Nick McAuliff
Phyllis Keiser
Gretchen Coss

Welcome and Introductions Vice President Ed Poppell welcomed attendees. Committee
and audience members introduced themselves. A copy of the meeting summary for October 30,
2008 was available at the sign-in table.

II. Strategic Plan Update Vice President Poppell introduced Dave Sweeney of RS&H, who
introduced the rest of the consultant team. Mr. Sweeney proceeded with a presentation of the
final St. Augustine Historic Area Strategic Plan with assistance from Gretchen Coss of Gallagher
& Associates; Bill Pressley of Pressley Associates and Tom Moriarity of Economic Research
Associates. The presentation outline was as follows:

St. Augustine Historic District Strategic Plan Steering Committee
Meeting Report: December 16, 2008

Page 1 of 5

a. Mission and Vision summarize the mission and vision presented at earlier meetings

b. Exhibit and Educational Plan summarize the visitor experience framework presented at earlier

c. Physical Plan describe the components of the physical plan that will be included in the
Strategic Plan

d. Marketing Plan describe the components of the marketing plan that will be included in the
Strategic Plan

e. Implementation Plan describe the components of the implementation plan that will be
included in the Strategic Plan

f. Next Steps note that the final plan documents will be delivered to the Governor, Senate
President and Speaker of the House on or before February 1, 2009, and will also be posted at
the University's project website

Following the presentation, the public voiced their comments and questions. Discussion highlights are
as follows:

Pedestrian Crossings. Tracy Upchurch asked how pedestrians would be guided across A1A from the
Interpretive Center site to the Castillo. Dave Sweeney responded that the crosswalk may need to be
moved from Fort Alley, but that the design will have to consider the road curvature and sight lines.
Gordie Wilson added that the Castillo's General Management Plan calls for reduction and redesign of
their existing parking lot, which could incorporate the redesigned pedestrian crossing. He also noted
that the Castillo will retain some ticketing functions on the Castillo side of the street.

Elevated Walkways. A participant asked about the feasibility of elevated walkways, particularly one
that were to come from a second story of the Interpretive Center and reach the Castillo lawn. Dave
Sweeney responded that this was considered, but there were concerns about blocking views of the
Castillo, Intercoastal Waterway and Bridge of Lions. An elevated walkway would also not solve the
problem of pedestrians at street level who typically will not use elevated walkways.

Legislative Delegation. Leslee Keys noted that there will be a meeting in January of the St. Johns and
Duval Counties' legislative delegation. She suggested that a UF representative should be present to
discuss the St. Augustine Historic Area Strategic Plan.

Vacant Land. Leslee Keys commented that the term "vacant land" is not really appropriate in the St.
Augustine context because the land is often public open space and/or an archaeological site.

Maritime History. A participant noted that maritime history is an important part of St. Augustine that
should be incorporated into the Strategic Plan themes.

Branding. A participant noted that the branding seemed focused on UF, rather than the City of St.
Augustine. He expressed concern about transferring the brand from the City to UF. Dave Sweeney and

St. Augustine Historic District Strategic Plan Steering Committee Page 2 of 5
Meeting Report: December 16, 2008

Gretchen Coss responded that their task was not to define the City's trademark, theme or tag line. Their
focus was on UF's role and the state-owned assets. They suggested that the City and VCB are better
equipped to develop branding for the community. Ed Poppell noted that the University's goal is to
enhance the St. Augustine experience, not to become the experience. UF's brand only extends to
education, research, and service. The University has a role, but St. Augustine has a bigger brand than
the University.

Government House. The same participant noted that at earlier Steering Committee meetings, there
had been discussion of turning Government House into the interpretive center. He wondered about the
feasibility of this option compared to new construction. Dave Sweeney responded that the proposed
new construction was presented at the last meeting as one of three options for the Interpretive Center,
but he noted that a new signature facility can make a notable difference in the visitor experience. Ed
Poppell added that the University has not lost sight of the other 33 properties. However, he felt that
simply transferring the properties to the University will not make the difference for St. Augustine. The
partnership will need a jump-start of economic stimulus that will drive revenue and donor interest. The
proposed new interpretive center can be the stimulus that is the "rising tide to float all boats." Mr.
Poppell added that the repairs needed to Government House will be a challenge requiring
approximately $14m just to stabilize the building and make code corrections. This cost does not account
for renovations that would be necessary to significantly change its use.

Interpretive Center Content. A participant asked if the interpretive center content will only be about
early military and civilian life, or will it be more inclusive of the entire St. Augustine story. Dave Sweeney
answered that, as currently described, the Interpretive Center would focus on these elements, while
other venues such as the City's Visitor Information Center have opportunities to tell the wider more
diverse story.

Catherine Culver asked about the National Park Service's willingness to consider joint ticketing strategies
given their existing rules, legislative requirements and the House Bill related to the Interpretive Center.
Gordie Wilson responded, on behalf of the NPS, that they may be able to work out these strategies in
interagency agreements even though they have strict regulations and fee legislation that they must
adhere to. He noted that the General Management Plan background describes the Castillo's
interpretation of military and civilian life including early colonization and maritime history. He also
stated that the legislation for the Interpretive Center talks about entering into partnerships with
common goals. Also noteworthy, the NPS is already part of the St. Augustine Attractions Association.

A participant asked if this partnership approach would lead to any duplication of services. Dave
Sweeney reminded attendees that the exact content and management of the Interpretive Center is not
fully defined at this point, but that these issues would be worked out later.

Marketing Plan and Tenant Strategy. Catherine Culver asked whether the marketing plan examines the
whole district or just the state-owned assets, and what will be the impact on private properties if the
Plan is examining the whole district. Tom Moriarity responded that they looked at the 33 state-owned
properties within the larger context. They examined how these properties' functions complement the
existing mix of uses. He noted that all good retailers want to know who their neighbors will be. He
stressed that no uses are expected to change right away and that many existing businesses contribute

St. Augustine Historic District Strategic Plan Steering Committee Page 3 of 5
Meeting Report: December 16, 2008

positively to the "feel" of the area. Ms. Culver speculated that twenty years from now the mix could
change from natural business evolution. Mr. Moriarity agreed and noted that the worst thing that could
happen would be long term vacancies so that should be avoided. He suggested that a Business
Improvement District or Downtown Management Association should conduct a space-by-space analysis,
but that has not been done yet.

Exhibit and Education Strategy. Marilyn Wiles suggested that the strategy should focus on what the
area was like when Menendez landed. It should address indigenous populations and archaeological
discovery while targeting international visitors with a multi-lingual approach to interpretation.

Jill Ziebel applauded the inclusion of "gardens" in the interpretive approach that can address native, rare
and endangered plants as well as those used historically for food and medicine. She also commented
that the strategy should focus on saving history including all building components and materials even as
the structures are being restored.

Michael Gannon asked how extensive the area of interpretation will be and whether it includes the
Mission, Oldest House, and Lincolnville. Dave Sweeney explained that the "layers of history" framework
is intended to apply to the broader community. He suggested that the Interpretive Center could focus
on civilian and military life responding to the NPS and state-owned assets. Gretchen Coss offered that
the Interpretive Center could house the entire St. Augustine story including all of the periods and
themes summarized in the layers framework. They both reiterated that the exact content of the
Interpretive Center had not yet been determined. Dr. Gannon noted that the City has difficulty
explaining itself to the public and the international visitor. It needs a good mechanism for guiding
people from one place to another. Ms. Coss agreed that this strategy framework is just the "tip of the
iceberg". Dr. Gannon suggested this history should be expressed better.

Implementation and Economic Impact. John Regan commented that the City of St. Augustine has
several public infrastructure projects ready to submit for the pending federal economic stimulus
package, but that he anticipates partnering with the NPS and UF on many of these projects. Ed Poppell
agreed that this will be part of UF's federal and state economic stimulus request.

George Gardner asked if there is a specific dollar amount anticipated to come from the legislature. Ed
Poppell responded that the request will be for a $10m Interpretive Center with the funding to be split
between the State and Federal/NPS. He suggested that, at a minimum, the University would like to
receive $lm to begin the building's design so that it can stay on track for a 2013 opening. When asked
about the next step, Mr. Poppell said the partners need to encourage the state legislature to provide the
funds including the recurring Plant Operations and Maintenance (PO&M) funding that the University
would be eligible to receive for these buildings. The University's position is that it will not assume
operation and management of any of the existing buildings without state support for funding the
Strategic Plan recommendations.

Catherine Culver suggested that alternate sites for the new Interpretive Center should be considered.
She noted that the De Mesa House yard is used for popular encampment events. George Gardner asked
how the proposed building will sit on the site. Dave Sweeney replied that the anticipated building
program of 15,000-20,000 gross square feet does not fit on the Mary Peck property without also

St. Augustine Historic District Strategic Plan Steering Committee Page 4 of 5
Meeting Report: December 16, 2008

including some of the adjacent state-owned land. He said that the details will be developed during
building design.

A participant speculated that the current state of the economy will make it difficult to get funding from
the state, so that federal funding may be the best opportunity. However, he was concerned that federal
funding alone may not deliver the desired product. Ed Poppell and Dave Sweeney explained that the
Strategic Plan recommends a partnership to share the funding. Mr. Poppell suggested that we may be in
a position to act quickly since the partnership concept is fairly well developed. Gretchen Coss reminded
participants of the successful return-on-investment results from public-private-partnerships in
Gettysburg and Jamestown that were reported at the last meeting.

A participant noted that the organization, Americans for the Arts (located in D.C.) has published studies
about return-on-investment that support funding cultural programs. This organization is currently
studying cultural investments in Florida.

Existing Buildings. A participant asked whether the university will also request funding to rehabilitate
the existing state-owned buildings. Ed Poppell responded affirmatively. He recognized that the
community asked UF to come to the table to help save the buildings, particularly Government House.

George Gardner stated that he is overall supportive of the Strategic Plan, which he described as a
sweeping plan that is great for the community. He was pleased that building restoration was one of the
plan priorities, but asked how the individual buildings will be prioritized for improvements. Ed Poppell
explained that the state gives the University PO&M funds for buildings that it manages. Since the state
has instructed UF to assume management of these buildings, that transfer would come with PO&M
funding. Upon transfer of the buildings, approximately $600,000 per year will be available in PO&M
funding that can be applied to some of the restoration activities, particularly those needed to stabilize
buildings and correct code deficiencies.

General. Nancy Sikes-Kline thanked the University for its efforts and said that she is excited about the
cooperative discussions between the City, the NPS, and UF. She also liked the economic stimulus
approach to funding the Strategic Plan recommendations.

IV. Other Business Ed Poppell noted that this will be the last Steering Committee meeting, but
that a meeting will be planned for February to continue this process and begin discussions about
plan implementation. He thanked the Steering Committee members for their time commitment
over the past several months. He invited members of the committee and the public to provide
comments when the Strategic Plan documents are posted on the UF website.

V. Closing Comments and Adjourn Vice President Poppell closed the meeting at 8:15 PM by
thanking all of the participants.

St. Augustine Historic District Strategic Plan Steering Committee Page 5 of 5
Meeting Report: December 16, 2008

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