It’s been more than seven months now and Reid Silverboard has figured out where the bathroom is, plus a lot more about Belleair Beach.
To say that all is well in hand would be an understatement.
Silverboard, as city manager, is the first of his kind in this small Gulf side city.
Since he took over his duties last March, much has changed in Belleair Beach, not all of it immediately visible to the public.
For one thing, the hostile atmosphere in the city hall no longer exists, gone with the individual who was the pet of the former mayor.
That is all (fiendish) past history and has nothing to do with Silverboard, thankfully.
He came to Belleair Beach with lots of experience, although a small city might seem to be the place for those starting out. Silverboard has a different set up.
His wife, Jill, is a city manager, too, presently in Madeira Beach. For the sake of love, family and all that obvious stuff the two have to be in close proximity as far as their jobs are concerned.
“What do you do if you one of you gets an offer that can’t be refused?” he is asked.
“We’d treat that as an offer that can’t be refused,” Silverboard says with a little smile in the dulcet tones of his native Atlanta, tones further nurtured at LSU and Ole Miss.
He was at Fort Walton Beach up in the Panhandle for 10 years prior to coming to Belleair Beach and Jill was at neighboring Destin.
Small city or not, Belleair Beach still fits the expertise that an experienced hand like Silverboard brings.
He says he has modified the budget procedure so that it is more of a policy document and designed to provide more information to the public.
For Silverboard, the city’s budget can be the fundamental document that can fulfill the city’s comprehensive needs and be comprehensible to the citizens.
“We want to identify what residents want their city to be,” he says, “and then set priorities to suit those public demands.”
Prominent on the list of priorities for Silverboard is working on and updating the city’s infrastructure. “We need to take care of storm drainage, resurface roads and renovate the sea walls the city owns,” Silverboard says.
He points out that storm drainage pipes are 40 or 50 years old - as old as the city itself - and a comprehensive plan is needed. “Probably about a million dollars in improvements are needed,” he says.
There is also a need for dredging in the water fingers that interlace the west side of the city off the Intracoastal Waterway.
Undergrounding, the popular fad of the day, also needs a look. The county plan which would split costs with the cities that lie along Gulf Boulevard is high cost – maybe as much as $1.5 million for Belleair Beach.
When it all started last spring, Silverboard had to pull together a work force that had been demoralized by the previous administration and its gauleiter. That has been done.
And, as he says, there are always challenges and opportunities - “usually that the public is not aware.”
But Silverboard is up to the challenges and knows how to capitalize on opportunities.
There’s been a nice turnaround in Belleair Beach.
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