Fence to enclose sports complex

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee County Commissioners Thursday agreed to seek bids on fencing of the Okeechobee Sports Complex, with gates at the entrances. The proposed fencing will block access to the property from U.S. 441.

County administrator Robbie Chartier said there has been a recurring problem with fights at the sports complex after school hours.

She said some students who do not meet the requirements for a parking permit at Okeechobee High School have been parking at the sports complex and walking across U.S. 441 to OHS. Problems have arisen when some of these teens gather in the sports complex parking lot after school.

“Last week, the sheriff’s office had to arrest two of the kids for fighting,” she said. Vandalism has also been a problem.

To qualify for a parking spot at the school, students must meet standards for grades and behavior. According to the OHS student handbook, “Driving and parking your vehicle at Okeechobee High School is a privilege, not a right.” A driver’s license, vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and a current school ID must be provided in order to obtain a permit. Students must also compete forms for the drug and alcohol testing program. Students with a grade point average under 1.5 (2.0 is a C) are not eligible to park on campus.

Mrs. Chartier suggested fencing off the sports complex over the summer and then enforcing the parking rules at the beginning of the new school year. The parking lots are for the use of those using the sports complex.

Commissioner Bryant Culpepper said there is also a problem with older kids breaking some of the playground equipment designed for smaller children.

Another concern is the bad language the older kids use around the little ones who are there with their parents or grandparents to enjoy the Wooden Jungle Playground.

County Facilities Management Director Donnie Oden said cars speeding out of the sports complex parking lot have also posed a danger.

Commissioner David Hazellief suggested that in the future the county could put in gated entrance on U.S. 441, across from the high school so those parking areas could be accessed during sports tournaments. “I realize we would have to construct a road,” he said.

The county administrator will seek bids for fencing the complex and bring the bids back to the commission for consideration.

There is already some fencing along the south and west sides of the sports complex.

In other business at the Thursday commission meeting, county attorney John Cassels recommended the county extend the medical marijuana moratorium for an additional 6 months “to allow for whatever the state does in this Legislative session.”

Mr. Cassels said that instead of going through the exercise of adopting local ordinances or regulations, only to have the legislature make the county rules obsolete, the county should wait until the state rules are finalized. There were no comments from the public.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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