By BEN GRAFTON
At Freeport’s City Council meeting of Jan. 14, City Planner Latilda Hughes gave copies of a draft proposal for operation of golf carts on designated roadways in the city to Council members and asked for Council review of the document. Conditions for operation included: Persons under the age of 16 would not be permitted to operate the carts. For 24-hour operation headlights, brake lights, turn signals and a windshield would be required. Golf carts would not be allowed on sidewalks and they would be limited to a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour. Hughes asked approval to bring the subject up at the next meeting when more information would be provided and the first of two public hearings would be presented.
Councilman Harold Taunton spoke in support of reviewing the golf cart issue and also suggested the Council consider allowing power generated by the solar collectors at the Sports Complex be used for charging golf cart batteries.
Fire Chief Chad Harrell gave a brief report of department activity in December, including distribution of food and toys to 22 families, with 56 children. Harrell expressed appreciation for support from the Town Planters during the holidays.
In response to a question about ISO ratings, Harrell said he contacted ISO headquarters in New Jersey. He talked to the people there and filled out a pre-insurance survey The people he talked to will send relevant material to Freeport. He expects to receive more information and have more contacts over the next few weeks.
Taunton presented a report on park activity and said, “Myself, Shane [Parks Director Supple] and the sheriff’s department need a little help. Our soccer fields got ‘donuts’ cut on them again. They [the vandals] actually drove up, tore down a section of the wood fence and drove over it.”
Taunton also said that work has been done on the batting cages, the playground has been fixed and the foundation around the press box has been fixed. In the next few weeks kids will be signing up for baseball. Some work is underway to try to put together a tackle football team for next fall.
Anna Hudson presented the Preble-Rish engineering report including comments that: Field verification has been completed for the water model base maps and pressure data from the water storage tanks is being put into the water model. Notification has been received from The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that additional testing is no longer required.
City Clerk Robin Haynes presented “Budget Change #1,” which basically withdrew $66,000, each, from the street department and the parks department and transferred these funds into the fire department to help offset the budget shortfall there. The transfer of funds was approved.
The Council approved attendance at training conferences for Hughes (Planner – Flood Plain Management) and Barley (Institute for Elected Municipal Officials).
Councilwoman Jennifer Laird introduced Mr. Dickerson of State Farm Insurance who answered questions about the impact on insurance costs brought on by ISO ratings. Dickerson said, “Everybody realizes that claims drive insurance rates. It’s a big circle because fire protection prevents fires. So in places that are unprotected they pay astronomical rates. … ISO, of course, has several different criteria that they use: response time, time for water on the fire, how many plugs you’ve got; what’s the distance to the plugs; sometimes they go into building codes (sheet rock and fire walls). … A lot of your insurance companies subscribe to ISO, but some companies don’t rely on ISO, they rely on claim experience. State Farm does not use the ISO rating, but it does subscribe to the ISO principal.”
In answer to the proposition that, “If you are within five miles of the fire station, that determines the premium,” Dickerson said, “I don’t subscribe to that. We try to marry the claims experience with the ISO principle.”
It is understood that the last Freeport ISO rating was done in 1989. Since it has been more than 15 years since Freeport has had an ISO – it’s logical that the city probably should get one and this action is already underway. It is now understood that the ISOs will be updated on a five-year rotation.
By BEN GRAFTON