Aug 162013

By Sam Conner
The Winslow City Council met Tuesday evening as the Public Housing Authority before its regular meeting, and heard Public Housing Director Jesse Fernandez say during consideration of a resolution to approve the section eight program assessment that the program has cut into the department’s budget and leaves an anticipated $29,000 shortfall for August. It left shortfalls of over $24,000 in June and over $20,000 in July.
He noted that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will set its guidelines soon, and that it may be necessary for the city to remove as many as six families from the program.
The council approved that resolution and one adopting the department’s low rent budget, from which Fernandez said he had cut $19,360.
At the beginning of the council’s regular meeting, reports were given by Interim City Manager Dale Patton and his designees on a number of issues.
Parks and Recreation Director Scott Lancaster reported on the skate park proposal. He noted that in 2002 the city purchased skate ramps for $40,000 to be maintained by the skate club. The ramps were vandalized and a young man was seriously injured using the ramps, which were eventually destroyed by vandals dragging them with a truck. He gave the council many pictures of skate parks in other cities.
Patton said that the council would need to prioritize whether to buy ramps and construct a skate park, or do needed work on Vargas Field, the multi-purpose facility or other needs. He said there is much that needs to be done and choices need to be made.
Allen Rosenbaum reported on the boat house needed to protect the dredge and described several possibilities, all of which are expected to be expensive. He said that more information is needed from companies that make the facilities, and that this needs to be discussed at a future meeting.
Police Chief Steve Garnett spoke about several police department issues and said that the department has five new bulletproof vests this year and has also purchased new weapons for the officers. He noted that the department is operating with five fewer personnel that authorized. New Tasers have also been purchased. Officers need training for dealing with sex offenses. Officers will have body cameras, which should improve many areas of police practice.
Garnett said that he plans to retire in three years and wants to leave the department with everything working the way it should.
Councilman Bob Schlesinger added that Garnett, Fire Chief James Hernandez and other department members had put on a program at Northland Community College that was very well done and praiseworthy.
City Engineer Mark Woodson reported on various projects, including some expected to be built soon, such as Carl’s Jr. Restaurant near Walmart and the Medicine Room on East Third Street. He mentioned flood plain issues, the hospitality park and the old golf course property. He said that the state parks agency is finally on the city’s side in that property issue. Also included in his report were the Winslow well field water line, and fire hydrant and manhole issues.
Judge Alison Kolomitz gave the quarterly court report.