By RUBY KEARCE
The Freeport City Council met on March 14. The Freeport Regional Sports Complex pickleball court design was proposed to the council. Cost of the design, along with the survey of the land, totaled $16,000. Council member Elizabeth Brannon posed the question of why the survey for the land cost $3,500. Project Manager Alex Rouchaleau explained that the survey would be more in depth, as opposed to a standard survey. This survey would include tree and pond location as well as several areas of elevation. This will ensure the placement of the courts will be located in a spot that requires less trees to be felled in the process. A motion was passed to approve payment for the pickelball court design and property survey.
City Manager Mark Martin asked the council to approve of the purchase of property that will bring the city closer to the Portland Well. The property cost $9,000. A motion was passed to approve of the purchase of land.
Planning Director Latilda Hughes – Neel approached the board to discuss the Ashton Park Development Project. 331 Freeport Partners, LLC, the developers for the project, has offered to increase the City Park Area from +12.5 acres, which was originally approved on the current master plan, to +59.1 acres. This property will include the future road right-of-way areas associated with the city park. The developer is also asking for the park to be named Ronnie Brannon Sr. Memorial Park.
Ronnie Brannon served on Freeport’s planning board for a number of years and became a well known figure in the city. Brannon passed away due to a car accident on U.S. 331 near DeFuniak Springs a few years ago. The developer is also contributing $157,950 to the city of Freeport for the construction of roadways associated with the park. A motion was passed to approve of the recent updates to the Ashton Park Development Project master plan.
In other news, Hughes – Neel announced that the staff had attended the grand opening of Ships Chandler phase two, a storage facility. Ships Chandler Project features boat sales, storage, maintenance, and repair. Owner Peter Wright told Hughes Neel that 60 percent of Ships Chandler’s Customers are Freeport local boat owners. The Marquis Shopping center has recently received its final approval, and Los Rancheros will be opening its doors soon. Autos Car Wash is making strides and is coming soon. Eglin Federal Credit Union has its final approval and should have its foundation ready within the next few months. A tool center on the smaller scale, but comparable to Harbor Freight, is projected to be coming to Freeport. Family Dollar/Dollar Tree, which includes grocery items, is weeks away from its final inspection and should be opening within the next few months.