By REID TUCKER
The DeFuniak Springs City Council ultimately decided to look into providing a third of the funding for the materials needed on a project to alter the lane striping on Walton Road.
A conservative estimate provided at the Council’s June 25 meeting by Ryan Douglass of Walton County’s Public Works Department showed total materials costs to come in at $60,000, being split three ways among the county, city and the Walton County School District. The majority of the Council members supported at least seeing if the $20,000 expenditure was feasible considering this year’s budget, though Councilmen Ron Kelley and Mac Work dissented when the motion was put to the vote.
Douglass assured the Council that the county is prepared to provide the labor for the project, which will make the intersection of John Baldwin Road, a city street, and Walton Road, a county road, into a four-way stop. The results of a 2010 traffic study conducted on the road, the main feature of which is Walton High School, showed that a traffic light was the preferable means of controlling traffic, which almost daily slows to a crawl when school lets out. However, Douglass said such a move would be cost-prohibitive, with the average cost of a new traffic light coming in at close to $200,000, hence the more cost-effective idea to simply restripe the roads to redirect traffic more safely.
Though the proposed lane striping changes would only affect perhaps 100 feet or so of John Baldwin Road, it was the Council’s opinion that such a project would benefit many city residents living in nearby neighborhoods and the board therefore directed staff to see if the funds needed could be found.
Douglass said the county aimed to have completed the project before school resumed in August.
The remainder of the meeting moved swiftly, with the Council voting unanimously to approve a motion made by Councilman Work requiring all non-profit organizations requesting money be set aside in the city’s budget-making process to provide balance sheets and income statements. On a related topic, the Council also reviewed and approved the schedule for upcoming budget workshops, the first of which is set for Tuesday, July 17.
City Marshal Mark Weeks got the go-ahead from the Council to do an even swap on 20 of the Police Department’s auxiliary Glock automatic pistols for 13 new-generation handguns. Though all of the sidearms are .40-caliber Glocks, they are of several different models, representing the varying needs of the officers carrying the weapons, which will range from use in training to concealed carry by plainclothes officers. Weeks also received approval from the Council to promote two officers to the rank of sergeant, which includes a pay raise, in order to fill two vacant supervisory roles.
The Council also approved the first reading of two ordinances proposed by City Planner Greg Scoville. The first updates Chapter 5 of the Building Ordinance, which principally deals with minimum standards for construction of improvements to buildings within the city, bringing those standards in line with the most recent Florida Building Code, itself revised in 2010. The second will repeal and replace the existing Chapter 8.5 of the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance allowing the adoption of flood hazard maps, the designation of a flood plain administrator, and adopting procedures for development in flood hazard areas among other purposes.
Finally, Florida Chautauqua Center President Chris Mitchell presented a video to the Council explaining the theme of the upcoming Winter Assembly, which is set for January 2013 and the Florida Chautauqua’s role in larger Chautauqua movement’s history. Furthermore, Mitchell announced the keynote speaker of this year’s assembly will be former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, wife of President Jimmie Carter. She is the latest of several famous speakers, which includes Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff in the George W. Bush White House, Naomi Tutu, daughter of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Céline Cousteau, granddaughter of legendary French oceanographer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau.