By BEN GRAFTON
To open the business portion of the Freeport City Council meeting of May 8, City Planner Latilda Henninger introduced Julie Dennis of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity who commented on the progress made to date in the planning workshops for Freeport’s Working Waterfronts Florida project. Dennis told the Council that there are 23 of these projects in Florida now and they target economic development, public access and environmental hazard reduction. The participants in these programs meet twice each year to share ideas about what works and what doesn’t. The next state meeting will be in Crystal River.
Cliff Knauer of Preble-Rish Engineering is leading the effort to prepare a vision plan for the Working Waterfront project. He noted that the state program is not as well funded as it once was, but the funding is expected to improve in the future. These items, among others, are marked for attention in the draft vision plan and they include: with waterfront festivals in mind, identification of property that might be acquired to provide public access and additional parking; development of a proposal to have fresh fish sales available in the waterfront district; and development of a mooring piling field for use by tug boats and barges; Packets given to the Council members contain more details about the plan.
Parks Director Shane Supple announced that there will be a Relay for Life event on May 18 – 19.
Supple also reported that Witco Electric expects to have the work to split the electric service to the different ball fields complete by the end of the week.
Engineer Charlie Cotton reported that the work on the North Bay water main that connects the Freeport water system to the North Bay system serving Choctaw Beach is complete. Before the system can be put into service a release from the Department of Environmental Protection must be acquired. The project was accepted by the Council.
Cotton then reported that the energy grant project is also complete and that the solar panels are generating electricity. The Council accepted the project.
Tim Ard brought the Council up to date on work at the Veteran’s Memorial at City Hall. A new monument, the first of its kind, to fallen soldiers will be added. This monument will bear the names of five Freeport sons who gave their lives in service to their country from World War II until the present. New benches will also be installed. The project cost is estimated at $20,000 of which donations of $12,000 have already been received.