Freeport discusses bio fermentation, field fees, legislative priorities, and WCEDA

CHRIS WHITEMAN (r) giving a presentation on ABS biofermentation.


The Freeport City Council met for its regular meeting on the morning of Sept. 12, and discussed biofermentation at the Freeport Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). A WWTP representative explained that the plant is currently working at 125 percent capacity, and it is crucial to get ahead of all of the ongoing development. Chris Whiteman with ABS came before the council to give a presentation on its product and how it can help mitigate this issue. Whiteman explained that all required labor of manufacturing and monitoring of the product will be given to an independent contractor who is hired by ABS. 

The city will most likely be required by the legislature to be classified as a Class A biosolid, and ABS has precautions in place to help mitigate the cost of that. The city is currently spending $412,000 on operating expenditure, with BIOFERM the city will be spending $92,620, giving the city an annual savings of $319,380. There was a motion passed to start using ABS biofermentation. 

A representative from Parks and Recreation approached the council to discuss a number of items. The current Regional Sports Complex Field rental fees are $20 an hour for light usage, $10 an hour for the hourly rental fee, $20 an hour for lining/set up for baseball, and $20 an hour for lining/ set up for soccer. The staff requested the costs be raised to $40 an hour for light usage, $25 an hour for an hourly rental fee, $35 an hour for lining and set up for baseball, and $100 for the lining and set up for soccer, this is because the cost of the paint alone is more than $80. A motion was passed to raise the fees to the requested amounts. 

Discussion then moved to the waiver of the required fees for the usage of the baseball/softball fields at the Freeport Regional Sports Complex. This will allow for the league to continue to offer a lower registration fee for the children who participate. Fall season began on Aug. 19 with evaluations, and will conclude on Nov. 18. A motion was passed to allow for the waiver of the fees. 

The representative then finished with the request to formally approve the usage of point and pay for online field reservation, this will allow this process to remain fully online. A motion was passed to that effect.

Freeport City Manager Mark Martin approached the council to discuss the updated Special Permit Application. Martin explained that special events involve the closure of a road, permitting and/or staffing from agencies like Walton County Sheriff’s Office. A 30-45 day lien period on events such as this was requested. A motion was passed to approve of a 45-day lien period, as well as another motion passed to approve of the updated application form. 

Tim Parson with Liberty Partners approached the council to announce that they have submitted applications for the Barrier Free Nature Walk and Pickleball courts, as well as a water quality improvement grant for the water reclaimed storage tank project. Liberty Partners is also working on a multi-purpose community facilities grant for the public library and the community center.  The discussion then shifted to Liberty Partners’ need for Freeport to narrow down on a Legislative Priorities List, and after further discussion the council agreed and passed a motion on Marquis Way and north treatment plant (to take pressure off of Hammock Bay’s plant), and the community center are all to be brought back before the Legislature. 

Then Martin announced a Wastewater Special meeting on Sept. 28, to be held prior to the council meeting at 5 p.m.. Martin said that Walton County Economic Development Alliance has reached out to request the city make a decision on whether it wants to match DeFuniak Springs by holding two seats on the alliance, one being a voting position, and the other one being a non-voting position. This is necessary feedback on WCEDA’s bylaws update which will be voted on at its next meeting on Oct. 5, after which the council will be allowed to choose the two members and their positions. This change will also allow for someone other than the mayor to hold the voting position. Mayor Russ Barley announced that he has been a member of this alliance for 10-years now. A motion was then passed to allow for two seats rather than just the one, one with a voting position, and the other being a non-voting position.  

The meeting concluded with Mayor Barley requesting a formal voting for the Christmas Parade and Tree lighting to be held on Dec. 2 at 5 p.m.; this is required by DOT. A motion was passed to that effect.