Main Street wants to beautify parks

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee City Council reimagined Okeechobee’s downtown parks at their regular meeting Tuesday.

A representative from Okeechobee Main Street suggested ideas to beautify the parks to perhaps attract more visitors and commerce.

“Let’s beautify our parks and use them,” Main Street Executive Director Jayce Fitzwater said.

She said it would support the local economy, attract tourists, attract business investment, encourage economic growth and build a sense of community for Okeechobee.

The program also would provide more seating, more shade, and more color in the parks. They suggested planters, trees and shrubbery, picnic tables and benches. Little pavilions or covered benches would provide more shade.

Sponsorship opportunities would be available for businesses to help with the costs.

“I thought the ideas were good for the park,” City Administrator Marcos Montes De Oca said. He and Public Works Director David Allen were directed to work with Main Street on a downtown parks plan all can agree to.

Mr. Montes De Oca said the touchy issue is visibility and more shade trees would reduce the view of downtown businesses for passing motorists.

Councilman Dowling Watford said a compromise is needed on shade. He said trees will be and have been very attractive for the park.

“I do believe it should remain a passive park. I think Main Street has some great ideas,” he added.

Mayor Jim Kirk said he supported the plan as long as it didn’t hinder the festivals in the downtown area.

Councilman Gary Ritter said he thinks anything that catches the eye of motorists might encourage them to stop and spend money here. He predicted traffic will only increase across State Road 70 as it becomes a more important thoroughfare for the state.

Another major decision to come is the costs and who will pay for them.

Main Street estimated an island with an apron might cost $10,050 apiece plus labor. An island without labor would cost $6,582 plus labor. Fifteen Sabal Palm trees would cost about $3,000; three multi-stem oaks would cost about $1,200. A large oak tree (200 gallon) would cost $2,500 and a full grown Silvestre Palm would cost $2,500.

Other actions

In other actions, the council proclaimed the month of April as Guardian ad Litem Month. Vern Melvin said the program helps abused, abandoned and neglected children. He said 114 children in Okeechobee currently receive their services. The program provides a voice for the voiceless in the court system. They currently have 30 volunteers in Okeechobee.

The council approved an $89,490 bid with Lynch Paving and Construction to repair a collapsed drainage structure located at the intersection of Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest Second Avenue. The Florida Department of Transportation provided a grant of $57,500 to assist with the costs.

Council voted to close Southwest Fourth Avenue between SR 70 and Southwest Park Street between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, to accommodate the Treasure Coast Motorcycle rally for the 19th Judicial Circuit Victim’s Rights Coalition.

The council also voted to reappoint Lynn Boak, Melissa Close and Jim Pippin to the Code Enforcement Board and Doug McCoy, Elbert Batton and Phillip Baughman to the City Planning Board for terms that extend to April 30, 2019.

The council approved $22,500 in repairs to Fire Engine No. 7 that nearly 20 years old. Cummings Power South of Riviera Beach will do the repairs.

Fire Chief Herb Smith explained the engine required major repairs which must be expedited because the truck is very important to the department’s response capabilities.

The council approved a 19 percent parking reduction in the requirements for Lightsey’s Restaurant to be located at the former TD Bank building on South Parrott Avenue.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment