GNV meeting to cover several UF, airport projects

The Gainesville City Commission will convene at 1 p.m. Thursday for its regular meeting with Cynthia Curry attending for the first time as the interim city manager.

Curry officially joined the city on Monday after her nomination in October, edging out 21 other applicants. The commission approved her contract, along with that of the new city attorney, a few weeks later.

At the meeting, the Gainesville Regional Airport and the Gainesville Technology Enterprise Center will give presentations to the board, and the commissioners will also decide how to move forward with downtown parking and a security contract with Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU).

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The commission will remain one person short until a runoff election in January between Cynthia Chestnut and Matt Howland. At the election on Tuesday, neither candidate garnered a majority of the votes.

Opening parking at The Standard

Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos added this item to the agenda to alleviate parking in midtown, noting that citizens listed parking as a top concern in a recent neighborhood survey.

The item would allow The Standard, a hotel at the corner of NW 13th Street and West University Avenue, to open up its parking garage to the public. Currently, the hotel’s planned development district zoning blocks the hotel from offering its parking to anyone but owners, tenants, guests and customers.

The staff recommendation would strike the wording from the ordinance that restricts the garage’s customer base before bringing the new ordinance to the commission for a first reading.

GRU Security Contract

GRU needs the commission’s approval to amend its security contract with Excelsior Defense Inc. for additional services. The increase came because another company, Miller Private LLC., that provides security force services for GRU wants to terminate the agreement.

The agenda cites management, staffing and financial difficulty within Miller Private as the cause for the termination of the contract, scheduled to continue until Dec. 30, 2021, instead of the original Dec. 31, 2024.

GRU says its budget will stay on track despite the increase in services by Excelsior.

Gainesville Regional Airport presentation

Allan Penksa, CEO of the airport, will give a presentation to the commission about the state of the airport. The commissioners asked for more regular updates on the airport’s work in August when it approved federal grants totaling $5.6 million.

The airport recently added a second nonstop flight to Miami at the start of November, a month after restarting the daily flight since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past several months, the Gainesville airport has remained above 75 percent of pre-COVID traffic with 35,222 passengers in September.

UF buying land at Airport Industrial Park

UF Health wants to purchase 8.3 acres at Gainesville’s Airport Industrial Park to use as a sterile processing center. The price would be $312,500 for the land.

After the city adjusts the lot lines, a neighboring parcel of roughly 6.3 acres will go to a food distribution business that has expressed interest.

The Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, along with the airport, held a welcoming ceremony on Tuesday for the newest tenant at the Industrial Airpark―Consortia Aerospace Group―who looks to invest $4 million in Gainesville over the next three years.

GTEC presents and makes recommendations

Staff from the Gainesville Technology Enterprise Center (GTEC) will present to the commission on Thursday about its 20 year history in the area. A consulting group will also make recommendations for how GTEC should move forward.

Despite its long history in the area, the staff item said many citizens are unsure who owns the facility or what it does.

The commission may take up the recommendations given or move forward however it chooses.

UF campus development agreement

The city commission will also vote to finalize the Campus Development Agreement between UF, Gainesville and Alachua County.

The commission voted in favor of the agreement before, but the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners delayed its approval of the deal last week because of changes in on-campus housing.

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