By BEN GRAFTON
At the Freeport City Council meeting of January 12, City Planner Latilda Henninger reported that Walton County Code Enforcement, which also does code enforcement work for Freeport, has not been able to get response to code violations from some owners along SR-20. Non-resident owners contribute to the problem. Henniger said that county legal council has carried the matter as far as they can and that any further action will have to be taken by the city.
After discussion, it was decided that Freeport City Attorney Clayton Adkinson would write letters to the owners and, if that fails to produce results, then the city will seek a court order to clean up the properties. As a last resort, the city can file a lien and foreclose the properties.
Parks Director Shane Supple reported that maintenance work underway at the park includes painting of the tennis and basketball courts and repair of the batting cages.
Supple said that county sheriff’s deputies have reported finding people sleeping in the restrooms. There has also been evidence of fires on the floors. As a result he recommends getting programmable locks to use on the doors.
Supple also asked the Council to approve setting up a Web site at a cost of $45 per month for the parks. The request was approved.
The issue of optimizing the cost of electric service for the park is still unresolved. CHELCO has suggested that the city get electricians to provide recommendations and CHELCO would review the cost impact of different options. Several suggestions, including lighting the parks with a dedicated generator and supplementing the system with solar power, were made. The Council approved a study to develop recommendations by Freeport City Engineer Charles Peters.
Peters reported that a list of possible projects, including estimates of costs and the jobs they would create, was compiled and submitted to the National League of Cities, where they will be added to a list to be submitted to Congress for consideration for funds in the national stimulus package. He said there is a lot of confusion about the stimulus package: Who will provide oversight? Where will requests be sent? And other similar questions need to be answered.
Regarding city waterworks, Peters also reported that Well No. 7 is scheduled for start-up. Logos are being painted on the “reuse water tank” which will be used to hold treated water that will be used for landscape irrigation in the Hammock Bay area.
Mayor Mickey Marse advised the Council that an archeological survey would be required for the ground where additional water distribution piping would be installed in the Portland area. The Council approved getting a price quote for this work.
Marse reported that the Department of Corrections work crew assigned to Freeport had been doing, “pretty good work.” A new supervisor has been assigned to the crew. Marse asked for an received approval from the Council to sign a new work contract with Corrections.
Councilman Mark Martin nominated Harold Taunton to serve on the Freeport Planning Board. Since Taunton works for the county, there is a question of whether or not a conflict of interest would exist. The matter will be referred to attorney Clay Adkinson, who will talk to Taunton and advise the Council on appropriate action.
Martin said he would like to see all city elected officials be made eligible for all City employee benefits. Councilman Earl King said this issue was reviewed several years ago and the cost was believed too high at the time. The Council decided to determine how DeFuniak Springs handles this matter and City Clerk Robin Haynes will get data about benefit costs and report back to the Council.
In recognition of more than 30 years of service contributed to Freeport by Councilman Mike Helton, who died late last year, Martin recommended naming a city facility in memory of him. The recommendation was favorably received and the Council will review possible choices for this action.