Crystal River City Hall File

Crystal River City Hall is pictured along U.S. 19 in Crystal River.

Crystal River made another investment in how it's showcased.

City Council members at their Monday evening meeting voted to convert the city’s part-time events coordinator to full-time, adding more benefits, roles and a new title of marketing director.

City Manager Ken Frink said Leslie Bollin, the current events coordinator, does a “fantastic” job planning some of largest community functions, and it makes sense to expand her position.

“I’m excited to take on this new role and the new responsibilities with moving the city forward with marketing and events,” Bollin said Tuesday at the city’s town square groundbreaking ceremony, which she organized.

In addition to planning city festivals, the marketing director will also act as the city’s public information officer and staff liaison to Crystal River Main Street, Citrus County Tourist Development Council and Crystal River Area Council. 

This comes at an added budget expense of $27,425.

“We’re getting her at a bargain,” Councilman Ken Brown said about Bollin.

Crystal River’s marketing director would also manage the city’s new website, which Bollin, other city staff and volunteer citizens have been overhauling for a launch in early February.

Bollin gave council a sneak peak of the site’s vibrant, navigable and maintainable homepage, which is equipped with an advanced search bar, calendar of events and links to the city’s most visited webpages.

“Although it wasn’t bad,” Bollin told council about the current website, “we did listen to public about issues with navigation … and another major complaint was that we couldn’t search within the website.”

Bollin said the new website will also be more compatible with mobile devices.

“It looks great,” Councilwoman Cindi Guy said, “very family-friendly and inviting to Crystal River.”

Council issues letter opposing vacation rentals bill

Another legislative session in Florida, and another bill seeking to keep local governments from regulating vacation and short-term rentals is in play for Crystal River council to oppose again.

City officials agreed Monday to send a letter to state lawmakers, asking them to drop Senate Bill 1128, introduced by Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah Gardens.

As written, the bill would prohibit cities and counties from permitting, inspecting and licensing homes that rent out to guests on a short-term basis. 

Vacation rentals would be required to display licenses issued by the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation, under the bill.

Similar bills were filed during the 2019 session, but those proposals died before they were brought before lawmakers.

Brown said Monday there are places in Crystal River that could offer short-term rental homes, but other city neighborhoods don’t want to be bothered by constant and different visitors.

Councilman Robert Holmes volunteered to speak at Senate committee hearings on the bill, which is now with the Commerce and Tourism Committee.

Council OKs agreement for Pete’s Pier to collect parking, boat-launch fees

In an effort to better streamline how people pay for parking and boat launches at Pete’s Pier, Council voted 5-0 to have the marina collect and process the fees.

Under the OK’d agreement with Crystal River, Pete’s Pier Management, LLC, will take 100% of the parking charges — since it owns the parking lot — and 7% of the city’s boat ramp fees to cover the maintenance and managing of the single pay station. 

Pete’s Pier charges $10 to park, and boaters pay the city $5 to launch their vessels.

In other action, the council:

  • Voted 5-0 to approve changes to a development agreement for the renovation of the Port Paradise Hotel, raising maximum building height a foot. Port Paradise, LLC, requested another foot of freeboard above the site’s base-flood elevation.
  • Unanimously approved ordinance changes spearheaded by city planning director, Brian Herrmann, to revamp the city’s land development code, making building and permitting processes more understandable for contractors and citizens.
  • Thanked city-contracted Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies for targeting unlawful boats anchored in King’s Bay. City Marine Community Resource Officer and sheriff’s deputy Adam Ferguson told council that four vessels were removed since October, with three more on their way out soon.

Contact Chronicle reporter Buster Thompson at 352-564-2916 or bthompson@chronicleonline.com.

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