St. Cloud City Council Meeting Recap for 3/25/21


Tonight’s Meeting begins with the pledge of allegiance and roll call.

Four out of five Council Members are present.

Councilman Chuck Cooper was absent for this meeting.

A presentation was given by OUC regarding price increases in effect April 1, 2021.

These pricing recommendations were originally scheduled for October of last year, but were deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To promote conservation, energy usage beyond 1,000 kwh increases from $2.08 to $2.60 per kwh.
They also spoke about a voluntary time-of-use program going into effect in April, which they say will promote affordability and sustainability, with peak hours being between 2pm- 8pm.

They said that 153 City residents volunteered for this program, which will run for 1 year.

Finally they spoke on the St. Cloud Remediation Project (The old power plant decommission and clean up).

OUC will have additional soil and water samples tested, with the Council asking that they get quarterly updates.

Tonight, no residents chose to speak during the Citizen’s Forum.

Items A and C on the Consent Agenda
(a contract for equipment rental from Big Truck Rental, LLC and approval of the final plat for the development Camden Bay) were immediately approved 4-0 with no discussion.

Item B, the “Preserve at Lakeside” preliminary subdivision plan was pulled from the agenda.

For Public Hearings, first up was an ordinance to zone 3.53 acres “Highway Business” for Big Sky Storage development, which is off Big Sky and 192.

It was no surprise this was approved 4-0 as this has been before the council and approved at a prior meeting.

Next was approvals for the Chisholm Park Master Plan and the Florida Ave Multi-Use Trail.

Presentation was given by GAI Solutions, who first presented the Chisholm Park plan and they reviewed the plan with Council.

Council Member Matheny expressed concern about kids and traffic and asked what has been changed since the last time this was presented, to which she was told fencing options were being looked at and play areas have been moved away from traffic lanes.

Council Member Trace stated he’d like to see fencing formalized in the plan.

Council Member Askew said he wants to see a Sea Plane base in the design.

Council voted for approval 4-0.

When presenting the Florida Avenue Trail, it was stated the Option C (winding trail down the median) was the overall favorite.

2 letters were read into the record in support of the trail.

First was from Main Street Inc. written by Paula Stark. The other from a 25 year long resident.

Dirk Webb, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce also came to speak in support.

A representative from the “Church of Christ” was concerned about paving and that they would lose their parking and wanted to ensure they will have parking and at least one handicap space.

And former City Councilman John Rallis, who is also a Florida Avenue resident, recommended Option C, but hoped for brick pavers and was concerned about speeding.

During discussion, Council Member Trace asked about signage for cars and crosswalks.

Mayor Blackwell said that the tree canopy needs to be addressed, but thought this should go forward.

Council Member Trace made a motion to approve which was seconded by Council Member Askew.

The vote was 3-1 to approve with Council Member Matheny voting “No”.

Next up, the Council was to appoint open seats on the Economic Development Advisory Committee.

Seat 6 was vacated by Mike Reilly, who was appointed last month but declined the appointment, and Seat 5 was vacated by William Underly, who resigned after many years on the Committee.

Mayor Blackwell asked for Maureen McNamee-Cook to be appointed to Seat 6 and Council Member Trace stated he would like to appoint Kolby Urban to seat 5.

If Mr. Urban’s name sounds familiar, Mr. Urban ran for City Council against Chuck Cooper in the 2020 election, and was heavily endorsed by Mayor Blackwell and Council Member Matheny.

This will be Mr. Urban’s third appointment to various committees by this Council.

Motion made by Council Member Trace to approve seconded by Council Member Askew. Vote was 4-0 to approve.

Fun fact- Mike Reilly, who vacated his seat on this Committee, “ran” Kolby Urban’s 2020 campaign.

Next up was a resolution for updates to the City’s Organizational Values, Strategic Goal Statements, and Strategic Objectives, which also was approved by Council.

Also approved by the Council was a settlement agreement for the Central Florida Water Initiative draft regulatory rule.

Environmental Utilities Director Marjorie Craig presented this and said this rule would have cut the city’s water allocation by 1.4 million gallons per day.

With ten public water suppliers challenged the rule, an agreement was reached in March calling for existing permits to not be modified.

The burden falls on the water management districts to show harm to water resources.

New groundwater withdrawals can be granted if there are demonstrated offsets.

All have now signed the agreement, with the City being the final to vote on it.

Mayor Blackwell thanked Ms. Craig and her staff for their hard work.

Also St. Cloud Police Chief Pete Gauntlett came before Council to speak about traffic enforcement in the City.

He cited different traffic statistics and acknowledged speeding concerns on Lakeshore and said his officers spend a lot of time in the Lakefront area enforcing speed limits.

With the conclusion of the Council Action portion, City Manager Bill Sturgeon spoke about a report that the federal government is looking at a $3 trillion stimulus package for local governments.

The City has identified 3 projects it would look at funding with those dollars;
1. Retrofitting its MIEX resin water treatment plants.
2. Constructing the long proposed new public safety complex.
3. Various improvements to the Lakefront.

He also stated Congressman Darren Soto’s office told the City he will have between $12 million and $14 million in earmarks for his District, and asked the City to identify a project for some of those earmarks.

Mr. Sturgeon told the Council if the City gets some of that money, it would be used to add to the City’s reuse water storage facility.

The next Council Meeting will be 4/8/21 at 6:30pm at City Hall.


About Author

Former writer for Osceola News Gazette, current Admin of Save Saint Cloud, Keep Osceola Beautiful, and moderator for Osceola Politics Facebook pages, current Saint Cloud Economic Development Advisory Committee member, current member of the Osceola School Board School Safety Advisory Group, and current candidate for St. Cloud City Council Seat 4.


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