History of IRB Action 2000
A Chronological History
The 1994 Comprehensive Plan, issued by Pinellas County, noted that the City of IRB had reached a “built out” condition of over 90% of all available land. The Plan recommended that the City investigate opportunities to acquire land for preservation and recreation before it was too late. In response, the City Commission, in May 1995, named an Ad Hoc Committee to inventory, study and make recommendations for possible land acquisition by the City. Former Mayor James Driscoll served as Chairman. The findings were acted upon by the Commission. A parcel of approximately eleven acres was purchased and became the present Nature Preserve. Parcels were purchased by the City to provide the present Chic-A-Si Park in the Narrows, as well as the present 12th Avenue Park and the SWFMD storm water demonstration site at the east end of 27th Avenue. That Report also recommended that a private, not-for-profit agency be established to work with that City to stimulate and support preservation and improvements to the City’s image.
A series of six three hour open workshops were authorized by the City Commission In 1997 to seek grass roots ideas regarding the “nature” of IRB. Images of the past, the present and the potential future were debated. The six sessions were attended by a total of 80 to 90 individuals. A general consensus was reached, and a report was submitted to the City Commission for consideration. The main thrust put priorities upon:
The unique “small town atmosphere” & small businesses
Preservation of our beach.
Public Safety (pedestrian, bicycle, children).
Encourage a “Florida “look”.
As part of those “imaging” workshops in 1997, all properties the length of Gulf Boulevard were photographed and displayed in City Hall. When contrasted with those of today, these 12 year old photos show the positive results which can be achieved through the enthusiastic teamwork of City government and its citizens. Many of the attendees of these “Idea Sessions” became members of IRB A2K when it was founded in 1999.
The Founding of IRB Action 2000, Inc., (A2K):
An outgrowth of the momentum generated by the Idea Sessions led a small group of citizens to establish, in June,1999, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation for the purposes of spurring public involvement and private sector funding of projects in order to improve the physical image of IRB.
The founding board of directors were Ralph Montgomery, Larry Torgerson, Bert Valery, Michael Davis, Henry Albarelli and Sigal Weinfeld. Within a year, membership had grown to over seventy members. Over the next ten years, additional directors brought new vitality. The IRB Business Association had become defunct, and the organization gave A2K a boost by contributing $3,500 and inviting its former members to join A2K. This action brought A2K an immediate blend of residents and business people which has been its strength to this day. In the year 2002, through the efforts of Commissioner Joanne Kennedy, The City sponsored a Gala affair which raised significant money, placed in a Trust Fund, to be used as matching funds raised by A2K in the private sector.
Through increasing memberships, sponsorships and fund raising events, A2K has been able to fund over $300,000 in streetscaping projects, pedestrian shelters, trash receptacles, assistance in signage and news rack ordinances and general landscaping improvements. Oktoberfest on the Beach, a major annual fundraising event, began in 2001. The A2K Board of Directors was seeking a means of increasing organization exposure and membership. That was the year that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ stadium was selected to host the Super Bowl. A2K Director, Patti Muneio, had the brainstorm that an A2K sponsored public party would be a perfect way to celebrate and let local residents and businesses know about the groups’ plan to preserve, revitalize and enrich our community. The IRB City Commission approved the event, granted the use of Chic-A-Si Park, the sale of draft beer and underwrote the general insurance coverage. Crabby Bill’s Restaurant graciously provided the liability insurance. This event continues to be a major one in the Life of Indian Rocks Beach today.
IRB A2K Awards are given to residents and businesses who take the initiative to improve properties, and enrich the appearance of our city, both on Gulf Boulevard and in the adjacent neighborhoods.
Leadership of A2k, over the years, has continued to advance the stated mission to preserve and enhance the unique small town character of our community. The present economic downturn brings a need for increased volunteer spirit in order to maintain the momentum of our broad dedicated efforts. It is hoped that the goals of underground utilities, uniform street lighting and preservation of small scale will be realized though further dedication and community spirit in many months ahead.
It is inevitable that our beach “small town character” will continue to be subjected to great pressures of change in the future. Through the spirit of community, which IRB A2K embodies, those pressures may be dealt with in a way which preserves that character, while maintaining economic stability. Let us work within this second successful decade of private community and governmental cooperation.
Written by Ralph Montgomery