By REID TUCKER
Visitors to the Paxton Dixie Youth Baseball complex may be in for a little relief from parking lot congestion and the summer heat if plans put in motion by the Town Council at its June 21 meeting come to fruition.
The Council asked West Florida Regional Planning Council Transportation Planner Christy Johnson to include a right-hand turn lane at the parking lot’s main entrance on U.S. 331N in a proposal to Walton County last Wednesday as part of forthcoming Florida of Department of Transportation rural road renovation projects. The Council noted that the large number of children and families participating in activities at the park throughout the baseball season has created a need for a turn lane to divert drivers off the highway for safety reasons.
The proposal is part of an ongoing Florida Department of Transportation-lead renovation project set to be completed in 2016. Included in the proposal are eight other projects ranging from paving shoulders to widening existing lanes to resurfacing old blacktop for a combined 262,279 feet-worth of renovation to roads across the county. The estimated combined cost for all eight projects is $22,850,027.
In an unrelated matter also dealing the Dixie Youth League complex, the Council unanimously approved the purchase of up to 15 new trees to be planted at the park. League President Matthew Mitchell made the request to the Council for additional trees, as the heat of the past season, which just wrapped up at the park a week ago, made it evident that more shade was needed for players and their families. Councilman Charles Cook, who heads up the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, and Councilman Tommy Mathis agreed to purchase the trees from a nursery in Geneva, Ala., at an estimated cost of $40-$50 per tree. Existing trees planted at the ballpark by the Paxton Ruritan Club had to be removed before construction was completed in 2008.
The Council also unanimously approved the installation of new billing software that will allow the city’s water system customers to pay their bills via credit card. A representative of the company providing credit card transaction services who was present at the meeting said the initial startup cost for a new credit card machine and its associated billing program is $300. The city will charge a convenience fee of $1.50 – $2 per credit card transaction to offset the $15 monthly charge of its use of the system.
Billing Clerk Judy Williams said “at least 60 percent” of Paxton’s water system customers had at one time or another inquired about using their credit or debit card to pay their water bill.
Water and Sewer Department head Councilman Travis McMillian said all city vehicles will require new emergency lights, especially once a forthcoming FDOT renovation project commences on the stretch of SR-85 that borders the city. McMillian said it is his understanding that Paxton city employees will need to be present on site when the work begins. The Council unanimously approved the purchase of the emergency lights as well as overtime pay for the affected employees.
In an update from last month’s meeting, Mayor Hayward Thomas told the Council members that he has discussed the installation of a video surveillance camera at the Paxton Agricultural Center. Recent vandalisms on city property have resulted in damage to light fixtures inside the Ag Center and unsupervised teenage trespassers have been observed attempting to climb City Hall’s backup generator. At last month’s meeting, Thomas indicated that installing security cameras might be financial unfeasible for the city given budgetary concerns.
Finally, the Council heard a report from Walton County Economic Development Alliance Managing Director Scarlett Phaneuf that the previous board of directors had been dissolved and a new board was in the process of being formed. Phaneuf said the new seven-member board is to be composed
of the mayors of DeFuniak Springs, Freeport and Paxton, county officials and Tourist Development Council Members.