CRA takes a field trip

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By Pat Hibbs

Members of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) took a stroll during their Monday evening meeting.

Williston's Interim City Manager Mark Schiefer suggested the outing as a prelude to talking about the progress on the first block of Heritage Park and a couple of difficulties that had been encountered. They looked at sidewalk paving, where some unanticipated curbing will be required.

They looked at the intersection of Northwest Main Street and Northwest First Avenue, noting the entrance to the new parking lot area isn't straight across the intersection from the road in front of the Ivy House. That had been evident on the plans, but now it's a reality. Not a problem, but something to think about.

Schiefer also told that group that the excavation had unearthed clay under the asphalt of the old surface. The clay must be removed because it's not considered a stable enough base for the new surface. So excavation will continue down to the subgrade and suitable fill material will be used to provide a firm footing for the parking area.

It comes with a price, of course; an additional $16,000 in this case. While the panel accepted the inevitability of the additional cost, members hoped that this wasn't the beginning of a pattern of unexpected costs. Chairman Ken Schwiebert pointed out that the first block of the park is the only one that requires any extensive repaving. In the other blocks, he said, the efforts are largely devoted to landscaping pedestrian paths that don't require extensive excavation.

Members briefly discussed the most recent version of a questionnaire intended for downtown business owners, to determine their feelings and ideas about the best way to make the downtown area more cohesive and pedestrian-friendly. The only suggestion was to add a question about the desirability of a commercial truck bypass around the central business district. That suggestion will be sent back to David Connolly, the Withlacoochee Regional Planning Council staffer who works with the CRA.

The talk turned to the Chili Cook-Off, which will be held, as it was last year, on the same evening as the Christmas Parade and the Light Up Williston festivities. Jessica Throckmorton, the CRA member who has coordinated the cook-off since its inception, assured the group that preparations are well under way.

A discussion of advertising for the event led to the idea of a Web site dedicated to the CRA. Throckmorton has designed and maintains other Web sites, including that of the Williston Junior Woman's Club, and she volunteered to obtain the domain name and set up the Web site. Quite naturally, her offer was received with great enthusiasm by the other members of the panel and many suggestions were made as to the content of the site.

The meeting which would have been held on Oct. 13 was cancelled because of the Columbus Day holiday. The next CRA meeting is scheduled for Oct. 27 at 5:15 p.m. in the city council chambers. The public is encouraged to attend.