By BEN GRAFTON
At the Freeport City Council meeting of Aug. 30, City Planner Latilda Henninger announced that the development order for the Southern Wine and Spirits project has been issued. Scarlett Phaneuf of the Walton County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA) added that the project’s contractor has projected that construction would start this week, weather permitting. The project will take about seven months and the project ribbon cutting will take place in the spring of 2013. The project will have a 20,000 square-foot building and eventual employment of 60 workers.
Henninger advised the Council that there will be a Planning Board meeting next Wednesday night (Sept. 5) at which the topic of industrial uses will be discussed again. She believes the board will send a recommendation about a heavy industrial category to the Council.
Henninger reported that the board will also discuss the military sustainability issue again. In her words, “It’s a booger. It’s big and it’s tough.” Okaloosa County recently decided against adopting a number of recommendations about this issue. Henninger said, “It’s possible that Freeport may follow suit.” This issue will probably come to the Council at the end of September or in October at the very latest.
Henninger advised the Council that she has had discussions with Councilman Harold Taunton about the need for a sidewalk from Freeport Elementary School to the Middle School. She said, “…there is a path that goes from the ball fields right on up to the schools and that’s where we need a sidewalk.” She plans to bring this subject up before the Community Traffic Safety Team to see if there are funds available for this purpose.
Henninger advised the Council that an office complex to be located near Dr. Hencinski’s office is in the development pipeline. If the project is approved, the developer would contribute to the city’s sidewalk fund for a walk to be installed on that side of the road..
The only thing holding up the C.W. Roberts project development order is the receipt of one outstanding state permit. It is hoped the order will arrive within a week
According to Henninger, Freeport Youth Sports is running the Youth Soccer Program for Walton County in this area. Eighty-nine children have been signed up for the program this year. There will be 14 teams including six that are for 5 and 6- year-olds. She said, “There are really great volunteers this year. Three of the coaches will handle two teams in different age groups.” Scheduling will be worked out for these coaches so their teams are not playing at the same time.
Engineer Charlie Cotton reported a low base bid from Utility Solutions Group of $235,000 for two new softball fields at the Freeport Sports Complex. The bid includes the fields with fencing, dugouts and a new irrigation system. The bid is higher than expected. The addition of concrete and a building pushes the bid up to $334,000. A short discussion ensued in which it was stated that funding, at that level, was not available for the project. The bids will be reviewed and a decision about the project will be made at the next meeting.
Cotton then reported that consideration was being given to a project to provide additional off-street parking for boat trailers and cars and a walk for the Four Mile Creek Park. City Clerk Robin Haynes asked the Council to remember that a project has not been set up and that this is just preliminary thinking.
Haynes asked the Council to review a number of documents including material about the safety program, insurance, the Community Development Block Grant housing program, and the draft budget in preparation action at the next meeting.
The first public hearing of the new budget will be at the next Council meeting which is scheduled for Sept. 11.
The Council discussed a request to purchase a line locator device for the sewer department. Additional information will be provided, and then if a decision is made to approve the purchase at the next meeting, the order will have to be placed before the end of the current fiscal year.
Phaneuf of WCEDA provided an update of some other projects to the Council that included:
The application for incentive funding submitted by a chemical company was rejected because potential growth and revenues were deemed inadequate. The company can reapply if these deficiencies are overcome.
The WCEDA Board decided to hire Preble-Rish to make some adjustments to the master plan for Phase II in the Freeport Industrial Park. The county has agreed to help with the labor and equipment for that project.
WCEDA is tracking the Restore Act. Fines will be levied under this act as a result of the BP Oil Spill. Walton County might get anywhere from $30 million – $119 million as allocations for projects from these funds. There are a lot of unknowns at this point but Council members should give consideration to projects that would be good candidates for these funds.