Church seeks use of property from the City

On October 13 at the LaBelle City Commission meeting, Nora Ned spoke on behalf of Pastor McKenzie who is affiliated with the New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Church members would like the City to consider allowing their organization to lease or rent an abandoned mobile home located on City property adjacent from the Alton “Kid” Jones Park. The property has been vacant for several years and has endured a great deal of vandalism. Ned asked for the City to allow the church to repair the mobile home so that it can be used for transient families in need of short-term housing (not more than 30 days). Ned stated that “there are several members of the community in need of short-term living assistance.” After discussion with Michael Boyle, Superintendent of Public Works, and LVFD Fire Chief Josh Rimes the board voted to have Boyle, Pastor McKenzie and perhaps a contractor assess the possibility of repairing the mobile home. It will take a fair amount of work and money to make the mobile home safe and livable. The board also added that the church would have to cover all costs involved and make sure the property is insured. If this project moves ahead after an evaluation of the property, the City will continue to insure the property for personal injury and liability.

Melissa Music asked the commissioners to approve the use of the downtown Wharf area along the bridge for their Swamp Cabbage Festival Block Party on February 18. Music noted that “it was a great success last year and the schools played a big part in the event.” She also asked for permission to sell beer and wine during the party. The Swamp Cabbage Committee will obtain a special event beer and wine permit. Commission Akin asked that the Swamp Cabbage Committee check with the Barron Library to make sure they were aware of the details of the event. Music agreed to make sure everyone was on the same page. The board approved the requests made for this event.

Ron Zimmerly, Finance Director, introduced several resolutions during the meeting. The ultimate goal of these resolutions was to add certain projects to the Capital Improvement Element of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The resolutions were all passed and adopted. Motions were made for each resolution authorizing the Mayor to execute the grant application documents. All of the motions carried 5-0.

Resolution No. 2016-16 (Florida Initiating an Amendment to the Capital Improvements Element of the Comprehensive Plan of the City of LaBelle, Florida, to Include the Barron Park and Providing for an Effective Date) allows the Barron Park to be added to the City’s Comprehensive Plan to assist with obtaining grants and make possible improvements to the park such as a water splash area, revamping the existing tennis courts or adding a pickle ball court. A maximum of $200K can be applied for.

Resolution No. 2016-17 (Florida Initiating an Amendment to the Capital Improvements Element of the Comprehensive Plan of the City of LaBelle, Florida, to Include the LaBelle Regional Sports Park Complex (Phase II) and Providing for an Effective Date) allows for Phase II improvements to the park, also known as ‘Forrey Drive Park’. Ron Zimmerly also mentioned that the county might apply for one or two Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) grants to assist with improvements to this facility as well. A maximum of $200K can be applied for.

Resolution No. 2016-18 (Declaration of Local State of Emergency, Declaring a Local State of Emergency in Conjunction with Hurricane Matthew, and Providing an Effective Date) was ratified allowing the Mayor to declare a 7-day local state of emergency. This resolution allows the City to obtain reimbursement by FEMA should there by any public claims.

Resolution No. 2016-19 (Initiating an Amendment to the Capital Improvements Element of the Comprehensive Plan of the City of LaBelle, Florida, to Include the LaBelle Civic Center and Providing an Effective Date) will show that the City is in the process of adding the LaBelle Civic Center to the City’s capital improvement plan at the request of USDA.

Resolution No. 2016-20 will add fire station improvements to the City’s capital improvement element through USDA for a Community Facilities Grant in the amount of $318,327.

Resolution No. 2016-21 will add a regular fire truck to the City’s capital improvement element through USDA for a Community Facilities Grant in the amount of approximately $425,000.

Mayor Lyons announced the staff appointments for the fiscal year of 2016-17. The motion passed 5-0.

City Attorney Angela Hill read the Ordinance No. 2016-09 (Nuisances and Feral Cats) and the board passed the motion 5-0. This 5-year program which focuses on spaying and neutering feral cats will not be of any cost to the City. Caloosa Human Society Executive Director Alex DeStafano stated that he “is excited to get started.”

In other business:
-LVFD Fire Chief Josh Rimes stated that the City ran 59 calls for the month of September. He reminded the public that this is Fire Prevention Month and that the fire department, along with the Forest Service, have been visiting local schools and daycares educating children about fire safety. The theme this year is ‘Don’t Wait – Check the Date’, and he asked everyone to check the date on all smoke detectors. Those over 10 years old should be replaced. Chief Rimes also noted that the fire department has recently started their annual Fire Fighter I course, and that “everything is going very well and moving forward.”

City Engineer Tim Taylor informed the commission that the water plant is at the same status as last month because he is waiting on approval of the change order submitted to USDA regarding the software upgrade (SCATA). Once approved, this project will be complete and closed out. The wastewater plant project is complete and will be closed out as well. Taylor also addressed preliminary numbers for the areas that are not currently on the sewer system to use for future planning. He noted that the wastewater plant has the capacity to expand the sewer system.

-City Attorney Angela Hill asked to have further discussion regarding the lease for the LaBelle Civic Center at the commission’s upcoming workshop.

-Superintendent of Public Works Michael Boyle stated that the line across the road to Tractor Supply is metered now and that the project is moving forward.

-Finance Director Ron Zimmerly noted that there would be a Legislative Delegation Meeting on December 1, and the commission will need to review the draft of the legislation delegation packet, and then get it adopted at the next city commission meeting. The Department of Revenue reviewed the City’s trim certification and found no violation of certification requirements and the City is in compliance. Zimmerly also asked the board to execute a memorandum of agreement between the City of LaBelle and the State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity which is an extension of the Rural Area of Opportunity designation. This agreement will enable the city to continue to be a participant in the Rural Area of Opportunity allowing for a waiver of grant applications.

-A request from concerned citizens was made asking that speed bumps along Bryon Avenue that were previously removed in order for the street to be paved be reinstalled. Due to costs involved and the fact that there are already several four-way stops along the street, the board decided to hold the issue and have further discussion.

-Commissioner Wilkins reminded the public that on October 24, there will be a presentation of the master plans for improvements to the Barron Park. She encouraged the community to attend this meeting and provide their input.

Amanda can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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