DeFuniak Springs Main Street receives USDA grant for downtown renovations [PREMIUM]

Story and photo by JENNA BAILEY

On Jan. 13, 2020 the DeFuniak Springs City Council held a regular meeting at 6 p.m. at the Walton County Courthouse in DeFuniak Springs (DFS).  

Presentation  — The meeting began with a presentation by City Manager Mell Smigielski regarding incoming funds to the city; results and attendance of DFS Main Street farmer’s markets and the Mistletoe Market; and comparisons between 2018 and 2019 on progress in DFS. 

Regarding the Mistletoe Market, the weekend following Thanksgiving of 2019, between 2,500 and 3,000 people attended the market that weekend. For other markets, an average of 350 people attended per event. The largest demographic that attended the markets were women ages 45 to 55. Additionally, Main Street has received a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)for a project to generate a comprehensive plan for the redevelopment of downtown DFS.

Consent Agenda — The consent agenda was approved with one item moved to the regular agenda. Regular Agenda — The first item on the regular agenda was an administration item. This was a request for a motion to approve the Memorandum of Understanding with Okaloosa Gas allowing the city to proceed with installing a gas main extension that lies in part within the service area of Okaloosa Gas. The Council approved this item. Next was a time for citizen comments from those in attendance. 

During citizen comments was a request for the city to assist the DeFuniak Springs Business and Professional Association (DBPA) with preparations for the “Light Up the Sky on the Fourth of July” event. The council agreed to assist the DBPA with the event and intend to work out plans for this at the next regular city council meeting on January 27.  

The third item on the regular agenda was an executive request by council member Robert McKnight for an update on the repayment of funds from Main Street for the Visitor Center and discussion of future funding. For this item a motion carried to extend the agreement for Main Street repayment until March of 2020. Following the executive request was a Public Works request. For this item a request was made for a motion to approve Mayor Bob Campbell to enter into an agreement with J&P Construction for the installation of a new blower, moving of one blower and the removal of two non-working blowers at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The motion carried to approve this item.

The next items on the regular agenda were for the Finance Department. City Planning Director Kelly Schultz requested a motion to authorize the City Manager to execute the professional services agreement with ECRC for GIS Services to update the official Zoning Map and Future Land Use Map. A motion carried to approve the request. 

Next for finance, Schultz requested a motion to authorize the City Manager to execute a task order with Dewberry for Professional Engineering Plan Review.  According to Schultz, the city needs a professional engineer to review development plans. This task order would allow Dewberry to assist with this need. These services will help ensure that the development plans meet the minimum requirements of the City of DeFuniak Springs Land Development Code (LDC) and Comprehensive Plan. There should not be a cost to the city for these services. Dewberry would bill the city, and they will then invoice the applicant for reimbursement. 

The next regular DeFuniak Springs City Council meeting will take place on Jan. 27, 2020 at 6 p.m. at the Walton County Courthouse in DeFuniak Springs.