Freeport City Council discusses grinder pumps, city pool status

The Freeport City Council held their second regularly scheduled meeting of the month on March 23, 2017. Prior to the regular meeting the council also held a workshop concerning the cost and procurement of sewer grinder pumps. Approximately 20 people attended the regular meeting, with both council members Jennifer Laird and Elizabeth Brannon absent.
During the workshop Dewberry/Preble-Rish Vice-President Cliff Knauer led an extended discussion concerning the type and price of sewer grinder pumps the city will purchase in the future. This subject has taken on new importance since the city decided customers would be responsible for their own maintenance after the pumps are installed. Knauer explained that there is “no possible way to compare” the myriad of pump possibilities without being given a more specific set of specifications. Pump prices also had a broad range starting at $800 and going as high as $2,500. The council asked Knauer, City Attorney Clay Adkinson, and Sewer Supervisor Robert Fawcett to establish a set of specifications for the city to move forward with pump purchases.
During the regular meeting City Clerk Becky Podraza asked for and received permission to purchase a new software program that will help with service and work orders. The program will also save time and have a GPS tracker in city vehicles.
Under the engineering heading, Knauer reported on his meeting with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) representatives concerning the city’s new sewer plant. He reported that the meeting was very productive and that the city is ready to move forward using advice received during the meeting. The new plant will cost between $12 million and $14 million. Most of the cost will be paid for by a USDA grant.
Under the mayor’s heading a conversation about the city pool opening date turned into a discussion about whether the pool will open at all this season. Mayor Russ Barley said he had been bombarded with calls concerning the pool schedule and availability. Parks Director Dana Weiler briefed the council that it would take a minimum of $50,000 to open the pool and could not guarantee the pool would open by Memorial Day. This brought about several responses from the audience in favor of opening the pool regardless of cost. Attendee Ronnie Brannon pointed out that there needs to be “something for the kids to do” in Freeport. City officials have been waiting on the status of a Florida recreation development assistance program (FRDAP) grant to proceed with pool repairs. If the city goes ahead with the project themselves they will no longer qualify for the grant. Weiler estimated that it could take up to $100,000 to get the pool back to working order and pass health department inspections.