By Marc Crail
Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
I've selected several items to report on. Remember that I'm only one of seven City Council members and my views don't necessarily reflect the view of City Council as a whole.
The second meeting of each month is actually a "Work Session" beginning at 3:00 followed by a "Regular Meeting" at 6:00. Our Work Session consisted of in depth discussions of four topics. They included the renovation of the playground at Gilbert Park, Cross Connection Controls (back flow prevention) strategies, possible renewal of the Fire Assessment Fee and the ongoing revision of our City Council code of conduct. There were no action items during the Work Session.
The Regular Meeting featured action on lots of resolutions and an important ordinance. I've selected several of the more important items to share with you.
The section of the Gilbert Park playground that was designed to serve kids between ages 5-12 is sometimes called "the castle". It was built in 1990 and has served Mount Dora's children for nearly three decades. It is a wooden structure that is deteriorating despite several rounds of repairs each year and weekly safety inspections. Replacement parts are very hard to find and it has nearly reached the end of its useful life. Because the safety of our children is a top priority, a new playground was approved and should be in place in the fall. About $263,000 to build the new playground will come from the Parks Impact Fee fund. Several council members myself included were concerned about beginning a major project now while we are in the midst of a Parks Master Plan process but in the end, safety trumps other considerations.
We hope to tap the Florida State Revolving Loan Fund to borrow money for four upcoming major water/waste water/reclaimed water projects. If we are successful in being included in the State Revolving Loan Fund distribution list we will pay just a fraction of the interest costs compared with traditional financing. We will be applying for revolving loan funding for an interconnect reclaimed water pipeline with Apopka, relocating utility lines for the Wolf Branch and Round Lake Rd., utility relocations along US 441 from near Renninger's Flea Market to Donnelly St. and for improvements near Waste Water Treatment Plant #1. We should find out if we can get this discount state funding in a couple of months. No increase in our water rates will be needed to pay back these loans.
Work on shoring up and repairing the collapsed roadway on Magnolia Ending which was compromised during Hurricane Irma are in full swing. I'm impressed that thanks to the hard work of our city staff we anticipate receiving about $1.5 million from FEMA and another $215,000 from the state leaving our city to pay about 12.5% ($215,000).
We had our first reading of an ordinance that would provide a $30,000 Ad Valorem Tax Abatement to Steamroller Studios LLC which is an up-and-coming digital media firm that will be moving into the Sunset Building (3rd. & Baker) in the next few months. This tax abatement will help Steamroller afford their office rent for three years while the benefits to our downtown businesses will be many times greater. Several much needed tweaks to the agreement were suggested and will be incorporated into the final version of the ordinance. Steamroller will bring 50 well paying jobs to Mount Dora and future expansion seems likely.
I felt very good about the discussions and cooperation tonight. It seemed to me that we worked as a team with good results.
As we celebrated Fathers Day on Sunday we all thought about our dear old dads. Instead of a quote I'd like to share the wording on a piece of wall art I bought at a Mount Dora gift shop. I don't know the source but I loved the sentiment, "My father didn't tell me how to live. He lived and let me watch".
I'm proud to be a part of your city council. I'm just one member and I don't pretend that what I report to you represents the views of city council as a whole.
Dr. Marc Crail
Mount Dora City Council Member, District 4
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