By BEN GRAFTON
At the Freeport City Council meeting of April 26, City Planner Latilda Henninger presented a report on the progress of the Waterfronts Florida workshops, the most recent of which was held on April 18. The workshops have been well attended and a number of good suggestions for improvements put forth. With the help of Cliff Knauer of Preble-Rish, work is underway to develop a strategic plan and vision statement. The next workshop is scheduled for May 2, following which a draft of the plan and vision will be presented to the Council.
Henninger reported work is being done on a large scale amendment which is in two parts. C.W. Roberts, the largest employer in Freeport has submitted an application to expand their operations here. The amendment will be coming to the Council in May and June.
Henninger commented that work is also underway on the military sustainability element that the city is required to adopt by Florida’s law. Anyone who is affected or within the testing patterns at Eglin Air Force Base must recognize certain flight and testing zones. Freeport has to adopt regulations that affect sound and light emissions so that there is no interference with the base’s mission. This will be done in a way that will not interfere with what the city wants to do in the future. The Planning Board will review this issue next month and it will come to the Council after that.
The subject of the city’s swimming pool was opened by Fire Chief Ben Greenslait. City Clerk Robin Haynes reported that the county has budgeted $50,000 for swimming pool operations. Greenslait asked for and received approval from the Council to advertise for additional qualified life guards to work at the pool. A three-day training program will be required for new people. The pool will be open on weekends until Memorial Day after which it will be open six days per week. A second shower for people to use before they enter the pool will be installed and there will be some simple remodeling to make the pool look even better than it does now.
Engineer Charlie Cotton of Preble-Rish reported that the North Bay water main from Portland to Choctaw Beach is complete and tested. The project will be closed in May.
Cotton also reported that the energy grant project is complete, but that a rain shield is needed for the inverter. He anticipates the shield should be in before the next meeting.
Cotton commented that the design work on the Wagon Wheel Road well project is continuing and that bids will be requested next week for the new ball fields at the Sports Complex.
Mayor Mickey Marse advised the Council that a shed is needed for No. 4 Well which serves as a backup for the system; that an altitude valve for the Portland water tank must be installed and that valve problems on No. 7 Well must be corrected. Councilman Earl King observed that because of security and safety issues, the building should be constructed of concrete block.
City Clerk Robin Haynes reported that Sprint-Nextel is changing the towers for Freeport’s cell phones. When the conversion is complete, the city will have to replace the phones currently in use in order to get service from the new towers. Because of this, Haynes has started requesting proposals from other cell phone companies among which Southern Link and Verizon are the largest. There would not be equipment charges from either of these companies.