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Commissioners deal with golf carts, dunes, Amtrak, other items

Mar 8th, 2012 | 0

By DOTTY NIST

The Feb. 28 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) regular meeting dealt with a variety of topics and ended with a confrontation.

The meeting took place at the Walton County Courthouse in DeFuniak Springs.

Walton County Administrator Greg Kisela presented a request from the city of DeFuniak Springs for the BCC to give their thoughts on allowing golf carts/low speed vehicles on county roads within the city limits.

Kisela said roads to be affected would be Bay Avenue, 2nd Street, Bruce Avenue, 19th Street, Bob Sikes Road, and Walton Road. He expressed concern about allowing these vehicles on Bob Sikes Road and Walton Road due to traffic volume and the potential for accidents.

“A low-speed vehicle isn’t a golf cart,” County Commission Chairman Scott Brannon observed.

Kisela agreed, saying that there are special requirements to drive a low-speed vehicle (LSV) and that these vehicles must be equipped to certain specifications to be allowed on the road. He added that LSVs may legally be driven on any road with a speed limit less than 35 miles per hour.

District 5 Commissioner Cecilia Jones commented that she would be concerned that children might be driving the vehicles.

District 4 Commissioner Sara Comander said it was her understanding that it had been golf carts and not LSVs that the city was considering allowing on these roads.

District 2 Commissioner Kenneth Pridgen asked Kisela to obtain more information on the proposal, and he agreed to do so.

Speaking of vehicles, soon afterward Kitty Whitney, president/CEO for the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce, told the commissioners that the chamber wants to “be the vehicle” for information regarding the planned April 24 referendum at which county voters will consider raising the sales tax to help fund the widening of the U.S. 331 bay bridge.

Whitney explained that the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce would never advocate for or against a referendum item, but that the chamber wants to make sure that the voters are educated on the issue and have all the facts they need to make a decision.

She said chamber staff are “digging deep” to get the facts and are preparing a presentation on the bridge issue. The presentation has been scheduled at 27 club meetings and other gatherings, Whitney said, adding that she will be happy to come to any event to provide the information if requested.

Whitney also addressed an e-mail that had come to light recently with an article in an area newspaper. Apparently sent from Brannon to South Walton Tourist Development Council (TDC) Executive Director Dawn Moliterno, the e-mail was interpreted by some as Brannon telling Moliterno that he would call Whitney, “rein her in,” and remind her of “her scope.”

Whitney said she had received no phone call about being “reined in,” that she knows what her scope is, and that she gets along “perfectly fine,” with both Brannon and Moliterno.

In other action, after a request from Jon Ervin of the TDC, the officials approved a $36,100 low bid from Utility Solutions for a reconstruction project along approximately 1,100 linear foot of beach dune at the Miramar Regional Beach Access. According to the request, the current dune at the access is at a 2:1 slope and is difficult to maintain. The dune is to be reconstructed to a 4:1 slope by means of grading. An irrigation and sprinkler system will be installed to ensure the survivability of sea oats to be planted as part of the project to help with stabilization. Ervin added that sand fencing will also be installed per state guidelines. Funding for the project is included in the TDC budget.

Also at Ervin’s request, the TDC’s current contract with the South Walton Turtle Watch for sea turtle monitoring on the beaches was renewed for an additional year.

Vivian Shamel of Walton County Planning presented a proposed agreement between the county, Regional Utilities, and the Grayton Beach Neighborhood Association for the decoration of the fence at the Regional Utilities lift station in Grayton Beach with donated art work, with the art work to be maintained by the association.

The agreement was approved following a motion by Jones.

Following a request and motion by Comander, the BCC joined in a resolution calling for the restoration of Amtrak’s Sunset Limited passenger service and for the expansion of the number of stops on its route in northwest and central Florida. This was a joint resolution of the Northwest Florida League of Cities and the Suwannee River League of Cities.

In 2005, damage from Hurricane Katrina had stopped trains from running along Amtrak’s route between New Orleans and North Florida. Although the damaged lines are now repaired, and the route is being utilized for freight, Sunset Limited passenger service has not resumed.

Comander said it was her hope that the passenger service would be renewed and that a “whistle stop” in DeFuniak Springs could be added to the route….

Read the full story in the March 8, 2012 edition of the Herald Breeze.

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