August 2012 Newsletter

In this newsletter, you will find information about current projects and work completed by BEI since our last newsletter.

Containerized Community Gardening
for Indian Shores, Florida

Watch Video

Community gardens are a relatively new concept being implemented all over the United States. These gardens are being put in highly urban areas on the top of high rise buildings and in both small and larger neighborhoods. Most Community Gardens are on privately owned land and regulated through updates to the zoning regulations of the city. While there are a few Community Gardens on lands owned by cities, Indian Shores, Florida is the first town in the United States to design and construct a Community Garden on land owned by the Town that is specifically designed for using the EarthBox® containerized gardening system. Go to www.EarthBox.com for information about this type of growing system. Brotherton Engineering, Inc. (BEI) made a power point presentation to the Indian Shores Town Council at a workshop suggesting that the Town consider the use of the Earth Box® to maximize the production of vegetables and flowers and reduce many of the problems associated with a vegetable garden in an island community with very poor soil lacking proper nutrients and highly subject to soil nematodes. This approach to Community Gardening in Indian Shores was unanimously approved by the Town Council.

BEI also suggested that a "Purpose and Operations Policy" be developed before design began so that the design of the garden would then help accomplish the intent of this "Purpose and Operations Policy". This too was approved by the Town Council. If you contact Brotherton Engineering, Inc. by E-mail at rhbrother@verizon.net we will be glad to send you a copy of the "Purpose and Operations Policy" that was developed by BEI and approved by the Indian Shores Town Council. This document is the subject of an article by BEI to be published in the Florida League of Cities magazine called Quality Cities in their Fall 2012 issue. Many cities in Florida and other states have already requested and received a copy of this document.

Pictures of the completed garden are shown below:

Note the walks for ADA access

One box is ready for planting

Room for expansion to 60 boxes in Phase II

Automatic water distribution to boxes

The "Purpose" portion of the "Purpose and Operations Policy" is a very important part of the document relative to the design of the garden. The Purpose had 4 points. (1) Provide a beautiful garden for the community, (2) Make if possible to grow fresh vegetables and flowers, (3) Provide education opportunities about plant growing, and (4) Be neighborly.

Purpose 1 – Beauty was a very important feature in this beautiful neighborhood. The lot that the garden was built on had grown up in weeds and had drainage problems on the site. Drainage problems were solved with the design of 2 water gardens and a special under-drain system with discharge to the street drainage system. Landscaping was done with shrubs and trees that bloom in the colors of white, yellow, and blue which are the official town colors as part of their municipal branding. Two potting sheds were made from salvaged building parts from the old Town Hall that was under demolition at the time of the garden considerations. This was initiated by the Town Administrator and Police Chief Mr. E.D. Williams.

Purpose 2 – Who wants to pull weeds and spend time watering these days when growing vegetables and flowers? The design limited the weeding work by constructing a weed free base for the EarthBox® containers. After the site was graded, Mirafi fabric was installed and over that, 3" of crushed shell was placed. This makes for not only a weed free surface but also an attractive surface and reduced heat from the Florida sun. The design provided for two irrigation systems. One is for the landscape plants and one is for the EarthBox® containers. The water distribution system for the containers is pictured above. These distribution heads were arranged such that up to 6 boxes can be watered from one distribution head. The design provided for a circular pattern for the boxes rather than a more typical rectangular pattern. The boxes have a watering system in the bottom of the box and the distribution line feeds into this water reservoir. The soil added can be organic and therefore, the products from the boxes are organic. Fertilizer used is also held within the box and therefore no fertilizer touches the ground to cause water pollution in local water bodies. Commercial growers of tomatoes in Florida are beginning to pick up on this idea and they are beginning to use this same EarthBox® growing system for organic products and reduced pollution.

Purpose 3 – The volunteer Garden Coordinator, who will be the leader of the garden group, has extensive garden experience having grown up on a farm. He has experience as a Garden Coordinator in a large Community Garden in Arlington, Virginia, and also has significant experience in growing using the EarthBox® for many years. He and his wife will be giving training classes and helping with the potting and planting of the boxes as well as coordinate with the local County Extension Office for training classes. Lighting, power outlets, and seating areas provided in the design will facilitate training for the gardeners.

Purpose 4 – Being neighborly is an important part of any Community Garden. This was facilitated in the design by installing concrete benches on the site formed for future dedication plaques and placed in a circular pattern for better interaction between gardeners. Lighting was also provided such that as potting work is performed in the cooler Florida evenings. Adequate lighting is also provided in the garden and potting shed areas on the property. A salvaged Sanibel light fixture and pole was installed in the center of the site by Town staff and lights were installed in each of the potting sheds by Town staff along with electric service outlets for equipment. Fencing and landscaping were also installed by Town staff.

A great Ribbon Cutting ceremony was held with assistance from the Beach Chamber of Commerce. A speech was made by Mayor Jim Lawrence and Robert H. Brotherton, P.E., President, Brotherton Engineering, Inc. Mr. Brotherton designed the project and also provided some physical labor in the construction.

From left to right: Bob Brotherton (BEI), Mike Hackerson (Garden Coordinator), Vice Mayor Joan Herndon, Mayor Jim Lawrence, and the Beach Chamber representative

Bob Brotherton giving his speech and Mayor Lawrence getting ready for his speech.

Beautification of Gulf Blvd.,
New Town Hall, and other facilities

Since the completion of the undergrounding of all overhead utilities, installation of new decorative streetlights, and reconstruction of the pavement surface by the Florida Department of Transportation, the Town of Indian Shores has been active through their BEAUTIFICATION COMMITTEE in implementing streetscape items along the new road through the center of the Town. These improvements include a new standard white CPVC mailbox that can be accessed from both the front and back for safety, new white bus stops, new BEI designed seagull street name signs, BEI custom design concrete trash cans and benches, and BEI designed median and sidewalk landscape. Bus stop landscaping is yet to be accomplished. Pictures of some of these items are shown below:

New Bus Stop

BEI Custom Design Trash Can

Bench with Dedication Plaque

Bench Foundation Design

BEI Custom Designed Street Signs

BEI Bus Stop Landscape Plan

Palms on ramp to Park Blvd

Town Colors – Yellow, White, Blue

Median near Park Blvd

Park Blvd. Entrance into Indian Shores

Expert Witness Services for Indian Shores,
and Treasure Island Florida

Brotherton Engineering, Inc. has provided expert witness services for the City of Treasure Island, Florida in a case involving utility rates charged to the city by another city. This case continues in court. For the Town of Indian Shores, a property was successfully condemned resulting in the demolition of the structure. Extensive experience in municipal operations as well as engineering has been helpful to clients who need expert witness services.

2011 NPDES Annual Report, FDEP Audit,
and NOI for second 5-year permit

Brotherton Engineering, Inc. continues to provide Phase II Generic NPDES Permit services for the Town of Indian Shores, Florida including the completion of the 4th Annual Report (2011) and implementing certain requirements of the permit. In January of 2011, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection performed an Audit of the Town's NPDES program and got great reviews from the auditors. In May of 2011, the FDOT and Town approved an Agreement concerning the interconnection of their individual MS4 Stormwater Systems. The "Notice of Intent" has been completed for the second 5-year permit and has been submitted to FDEP for approval. The Town of Indian shores is active in their public information program and notifies residents about the potential for stormwater pollution and how to help prevent the problem through numerous newsletters and website updates each year.

Undergrounding of Utilities on
Gulf Blvd. in Treasure Island

The City of Treasure Island, Florida continues to consider the option of undergrounding the overhead utilities on three sections of Gulf Blvd. that to date have not been placed underground. After these three sections are placed underground, all utilities on Gulf Blvd. within the City of Treasure Island, Florida will then be underground. Many sections of the residential areas of the City are already placed underground. Brotherton Engineering, Inc. assisted the City in obtaining binding cost estimates from Progress Energy, Verizon, and Brighthouse and worked with the utilities in determining that the best Cable Route would be under the west lane of Gulf Blvd. with easements on private property for required above-ground transformers and switches and other utility pedestals. Brotherton Engineering, Inc. prepared a final Agreement to contract for the undergrounding of the overhead utilities in these three segments on Gulf Blvd. Finalization of the agreement is pending the funding from Pinellas County "Penny-for-Pinellas" funds.

Royal Stewart Arms Elgin Building
Asphalt Report and Design

The Royal Stewart Arms (RSA) development is made up of 7 Association Boards and a Master Association. Each Board manages their own property and assessments as required. Brotherton Engineering, Inc. serves as the Engineer of Record for these Association Boards. The Elgin Board asked Brotherton Engineering, Inc. for assistance in evaluating the asphalt surfaces for the total site and make recommendations for repair. This evaluation was completed and a report submitted and approved by the Elgin Board. One aspect of the recommendations was to eliminate a tripping hazard at the main entrance to the building. There has been a history of people tripping at this location as people move from the car into the building. Although there is adequate difference in color between the asphalt and the sidewalk surface, people looking at the door of the building seem to not be looking down at this 4" step up. Brotherton Engineering, Inc. recommended the elimination of this 4" step as part of the asphalt resurfacing recommendations. Elimination of the step also caused concern about vehicles entering this area not noticing how close they are to the glass panels on the front of the structure and might run into the glass panels or the glass front door.

Research was completed by BEI into the need for appropriate bollards to stop cars going at low speed and not cause damage to the car or the bollard. Such bollards were found to be manufactured in England and sold through a distributor in Canada. A picture of this flexible bollard is shown below. Click the Ctrl key and your left mouse key on the URL below to activate the link to see a video demonstration of this flexible bollard.

Picture of the Flexible Bollard

Installation of the Flexible Bollard

Design of the asphalt improvements including milling, asphalt overlays, and some sealing work has been completed and the project is out for bid in August. Four of these bollards have been pre-purchased and delivered to the site for installation by the contractor after reward of the bid is completed in early September 2012. These bollards are ideal for installation in many locations in the United States. The knowledge of this bollard, and other more decorative flexible bollards made by the same company, are not well known in the United States. This is an ideal bollard for many bollard applications.

Dunoon Building ADA Sidewalk and Drainage Improvements

The RSA Dunoon Board requested Brotherton Engineering, Inc. to evaluate certain drainage problems and entrance walkway problems that have been a problem for many years. The sidewalks were not sloped properly and required a step up at all points to access the elevator and all first floor units. While older existing condos are not required by code to comply with ADA laws, the Dunoon Board recognized the need for improved access for their residents. In past years, the parking lot was paved by contractors without any oversight by an engineering firm resulting in water backing up over certain sections of the walk areas during rainfall events. Brotherton Engineering, Inc. designed improvements to the walk area that resulted in the resolution of the drainage problem, provided ADA access, and also provided a decorative improvement to the entrance area and first floor. Construction has been completed including asphalt and parking improvements much to the delight of all residents. Pictures of the completed project are shown below.

New asphalt and parking plan

Drainage improvement

Entrance to laundry area

Note unit wheelchair accessibility

Landscape improvements

Detail grade adjustments

Beach Access Parking Improvements
for Indian Shores, Florida

Due to the need to renourish the beaches along the Pinellas Gulf Coast, Pinellas County funds the beach renorishment along with Federal Grants. Each city along this beach area of Sand Key needs to provide adequate parking for visitors who visit the beach from other cities in the area as well as tourists who come to visit. Beach Access parking has been adequate in Indian Shores, Florida other than a slight deficit in the north end of the Town. This deficit was evaluated by Brotherton Engineering, Inc. with recommendations that were approved by Town Council. These parking improvements will be installed on 198th Ave. and 199th Ave. during the month of August 2012. Design is complete and the construction contract has been awarded.

 

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