Video store gets facade grant

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By Pat Hibbs

Williston's CRA awarded a Facade Improvement Grant to Vaughn Brewington, proprietor of Video Central, for repairs to the building at 143 W. Noble Ave. Work will include replacement of the overhang, new weather-resistant lights, and painting.

This is the second award made in this year's grant program; the first was to Donna Dunaway, who owns the building at 424 W. Noble Ave, across from Williston High School. Dunaway would like to restore the building to resemble its original appearance and the list of improvements is extensive.

The annual Facade Improvement Grants provide matching funds up to $5,000 for the upgrade of buildings principally in the central business district in order to enhance the appearance of the downtown area. In 2007, Steve McMillen used one of the grants to bring the original home of McMillen Surveying on Southwest Main Street into harmony with the design of the new business plaza across the street.

David Connolly, principal planner from the Withlacoochee Regional Planning Council, continued his review of the CRA plan, concentrating in this meeting on the all-important project list. The list has not been subject to a major update since its initial acceptance in 2002. Connolly has frequently stressed that the plan must be monitored regularly and changed to reflect current improvements and changes in the city. On Monday evening he suggested two alternate formats, asking which he thought was a clearer representation of the agency's plans. The four members present (a bare quorum) discussed the options briefly and came to a consensus. They wished, however, to have chairman Ken Schwiebert review the material.

Interim City Manager / Finance Director Mark Schiefer spoke briefly about the budget and said he'd have preliminary figures at the next meeting on June 6. He said that TIF revenues would not be solidified until after the city's budgets have been finalized in September, as TIF funds are based on increases in property tax revenues to both the city and the county, and the Property Appraiser's assessment was typically not available before budgets needed to be approved and submitted to the state.

The discussion turned to block one of the Linear Park, in front of City Hall. Nan Mack mentioned that Troy Burrell, of Burrell Engineering, had told the City Council at its last meeting that all of the engineering requirements were completed and that the job was ready to go out for bids. (The discussion was in conjunction with complaints about the closing of Northwest Main Street and the complaints of several of the councilors about the appearance of the barriers. Burrell had advised against any significant changes to the barriers because of drainage problems that will be resolved by the redesign of that block.)

CRA member Earl Ogle, who told the group that he is in charge of the Chamber of Commerce's Peanut Festival this year, expressed concern that construction on the first block of the park might very well interfere with both the Peanut Festival, scheduled for the first Saturday in October, and the Light Up Williston activities in December. He painted a picture of construction equipment and debris not only in the first block, but spilling over into the second block and interfering with fall and winter activities.

Ogle suggested that construction on the first block be delayed until January 2009.

Schiefer countered by saying that the bid process is set to go and bidders would not find that kind of time frame acceptable, because of changes in workloads and the cost of materials. Committee members chimed in, suggesting that now is perhaps the best time to get that area of the park done, as contractors are enduring a slow period.

Schiefer further pointed out that the bid process takes some time and suggested that it be allowed to run its course to see what the bidders estimated as viable time frames for completion of the work. Members of the CRA agreed to that approach.

The next meeting of the CRA will be held on June 9 (May 26 marks the Memorial Day holiday, and the regular meeting was cancelled.) Meetings are held in the City Council chambers and begin at 5:15 p.m.

There is a vacancy on the CRA. Prospective members must live or do business in the city of Williston, but city residence is not required. For more information about the requirements and for an application form, call Terry Summers at City Hall, 528-3060.