City Council debated asbestos, budgets and economic development

Asbestos, budgets, and economic development were debated as the Moore Haven City Council decided to demolish the Anne-tique Building downtown at their regular meeting on April 4.

City Clerk Maxine Brantley said the city has purchased the property and the deed has been recorded at the Glades County Court House. It could take a few weeks before the taxes are paid.

The old building has gotten into a dilapidated condition in recent years. The city recently demolished the former Lundy Hardware building one block away in an effort to improve the downtown area.

The city received two bids for the latest demolition. The bids were $18,411 and another for $62,000. The price of removal of asbestos would be extra.

Mayor Brett Whidden said the city could do the project in house if it did not contain asbestos.

“When part of that building fell in the street, the county brought in a track hoe and hauled it off. They didn’t charge us anything,” he noted. “It would take them 20 minutes. Have we looked at that as an option. We could haul it off and burn it.”

Whidden said he wants to get rid of the buildings and understands the County and citizens would like to make the city presentable. “To get to Moore Haven they see the Caloosa Lodge in Lakeport, come down US 27 through Palmdale and 78 through Ortona. They see all that before they come to town and we are spending all this money?”

There was debate over whether to have an asbestos study done by an independent firm before they approve the demolition.

Vice Mayor David McGee said it would be cheaper to do the demolition now because the firm has kept equipment here from the Lundy project. He said he doubted they would find asbestos and the city should take advantage of a lower price by demolishing the building now.

Council also debated where the money would come from to demolish this building.

Public Works Director Jerri Lynn Schlueter said there is nothing enticing at all for anyone to come downtown and purchase property, “Put a for sale sign on them, maybe you would get some interest.”

Councilman Jake Eighner said he would like a package put together that will sell some downtown lots and the marina. “Something that we can show that there is room for growth here now that the old buildings are not here. There is more money going underneath that bridge that goes over that bridge. It will take one person.”

He said economic development downtown has been on hold because of the old dilapidated buildings. He said there is interest from people to purchase property here.

The Mayor said if anyone was interested in the Anne-tique Building they would have paid the back taxes of less than $10,000. He voted against spending city money for the Lundy demolition.

“I’m not saying stop progress by no means. We can spend, spend, and spend, and progress is going to stop.”

Eighner made the motion to do an asbestos test and accept the bid from Samsula Demolition for $18,411.

In other actions the Board approved an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation for improvements and maintenance to city railroad crossings.

The council approved a $9,900 bid to replace the roof on the fire station. They also approved some repairs at the County Road 720 pump station. The council also approved removal of dead trees in the downtown parks. The city intends to hire a firm to replant trees in the park as soon as possible. A Christian Motorcycle group will use the park on Saturday, May 6.

Councilman Eighner expressed concerns about the appearance of the park.

“I hate to see the park tore up twice after spending all this effort to fix it. If they can’t plant the trees until after the rally, lets coordinate and remove the trees and replant the new trees at one time,” Eighner said.

City crews can handle the removal of the trees. They discussed concerns over impacting water lines in the vicinity.

The city wants to repair a crack in the city water park.

The garbage trucks are in need of repairs but garbage pickup has not been disrupted.

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