By BEN GRAFTON
Freeport has received notice from the Florida League of Cities that it will receive a $15,978 insurance refund. A presentation of a check by Tom Conley of the league had been planned, but it had to be canceled due to a change in Conley’s schedule.
At the Freeport City Council’s Jan. 24 meeting, Attorney Clayton Adkinson presented the first reading of a voluntary annexation ordinance for two lots in the Waterview Cove development. One at 122 Waterview Cove Dr. is owned by Thelma Jean Chancey and the other at 134 Waterview Cove Dr. is owned by Russ Barley and Tim Ard. The Council approved the reading and authorized advertising for the second reading of the ordinance.
The city sent a letter to the owner of a property at 941 SR-20 to advise that if the property was not cleaned up the city would file suit to get authority to clean the property and to charge the cost of the cleaning back to the property owner.
Engineer Charlie Cotton of Preble-Rish reported that progress on the work to install a control valve on the water system in Portland is still on hold pending delivery of the valve. He also reported that work is progressing on the construction of a control house for water well No. 4. The building trusses for the control house are on site and installation is expected to start next week.
Mayor Mickey Marse informed the Council that an additional electrical problem, unrelated to the recent upgrade, has surfaced at the fire station. When parked at the station all of the department’s trucks are hooked up to the electrical system to recharge batteries and to provide power to protect data retention on all of the electronic systems that are truck mounted. The circuits supplying this system have become overloaded to the point that frequent tripping of the circuit breakers occurs. The Council approved replacing these breakers using funds still available from the previous electrical system upgrade.
The Council approved a motion to post advertisements for 30 days seeking applicants to fill the open fire chief position. The ads will include the job description and state that the salary for the new chief will be negotiated with the selected individual following the interview process.
Interim Fire Chief Russell Beaty reported that he had discussed continuation of the assignments of interim fire chiefs with Sheriff Mike Adkinson who indicated he would like to see a new chief on the job by the end of February. However, depending on the success of the search for a new chief, Beaty thinks more time could be negotiated with the sheriff.
City Clerk Robin Haynes reported to the Council that the owner of the recreational vehicle park, formerly known as Lazy Days, on U.S. 331 South has approached the city with a request to allow sewer impact fees paid for an undeveloped second phase of the development to be transferred to another property which is a part of the existing development. It was reported that three or four of the existing sites are still on septic tanks. Marse reported that another similar request has been received. To effect the change the city would have to install piping, a pump and a water meter that are normally installed by the developer at the time of construction. Councilman Earl King believes that starting this practice would “…open a can of worms.” Councilman Ray Jackson agreed and said, “The city should stick with its existing policy.” The Council refused to authorize the request.
Tim Ard told the Council that, because of vandalism, lights at the new veterans monument are being broken out and that inadequately supervised children are climbing on the monument. The Town Planters have proposed constructing a well-designed fence around the monument to help control the situation. A second suggestion, that security cameras be installed, was also proposed. Beaty reported that a set of electronics and eight security cameras, acquired by former Fire Chief Greenslait, had never been installed and were available for use at the monument. A combination of these options supported by an ordinance restricting the area around the monument and providing fines for offenders is under consideration.
Haynes, reporting that other cities regularly schedule workshops before council meetings, proposed establishing a standard monthly workshop, open to the public, where Council members could discuss current problems and policies without taking action. This would enable the Council to be better prepared to take official action at a subsequent meeting. There was extensive discussion about the proposal and in the end the Council approved scheduling two workshops to discuss current matters. The first of these, to discuss receiving and processing applications for the fire chief job, will be on Feb. 12 at 5 p.m.
Another discussion ensued about the unreliable baseball pitching cages installed in the park behind city hall. One proposal was to move the machines to the Sports Complex where more oversight could be provided, but the downsides of this are that the constant struggle to keep the machines running would continue, and if the machines were moved, the city could not apply for any additional grants to be used in the park where the machines are currently installed. Another proposal was to level and sod the cleared area intended for new baseball fields at the Sports Complex and then open this area for batting practice. The second proposal will be followed up.