Fire officials to seek bond measure

By CINDY F. CRAWFORD
Staff Writer

Last update: May 03, 2005

PORT ORANGE -- Residents could vote for more than just a favorite City Council candidate in October's election.
Police and fire officials will ask the City Council Tuesday to add to the Oct. 11 ballot a request for a $17 million bond to pay for construction of two new fire stations and a new police station.

Fire Chief Tom Weber said the funds are needed to keep up with the growing city -- and the need will be discussed with many residents through presentations at homeowners' association meetings and other community events over the next few months.

"People need information to make an educated decision for the bond issue," Weber said. "We want to give them a presentation they can understand."

Weber plans to show how the two proposed stations would benefit the community by improving emergency response time and offer meeting space for any organization to use. The bonds would be paid back using recently approved fire impact fees, he said.

The police department wants to build a larger station to fit its 84 officers and replace the original one on Dunlawton Avenue, which was built 20 years ago.

Also on the ballot are three council seat openings: District 1, held by George Steindoerfer, District 2, held by Vice Mayor Mary Martin, and District 4, held by Dennis Kennedy.

In other business Tuesday, the City Council will reopen discussion about expanding the city-run gymnasium for parks and recreation activities across from City Hall and near the YMCA.

In January, the council abandoned $2 million plans to add a second floor of administrative offices and meeting rooms to the 20-year-old building after receiving a preliminary engineering report saying it would cost the city at least another $650,000 to bring the current building to today's codes.

A new report by an architect disagreed with the preliminary findings, putting the idea back on the table, City Manager Ken Parker said.

"We thought the gym would need a lot of work, but that's not the case," he said. "Now they say if we do it a certain way, we could expand at the site."

Also during the council meeting, the Town Center Redevelopment Agency will convene to make official the 15-page memorandum of understanding with developers that sets specifics for designs of the Riverwalk district, with a marina, condominiums, restaurants and retail stores.

City staff has negotiated the memo with developers for months to outline details for the area, such as the heights of condos, parking space requirements and entranceway designs. The district stretches from U.S. 1 to the river and from Dunlawton Avenue to just north of Riverside Pavilion.

cindy.crawford@news-jrnl.com