Orange Park gets partial Matthew funds

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 1/17/18

ORANGE PARK – The Town of Orange Park recently received federal funds for reimbursement of hurricane cleanup, however, it was for 2016’s Hurricane Matthew.

During the Jan. 16 Orange Park …

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Orange Park gets partial Matthew funds

Posted

ORANGE PARK – The Town of Orange Park recently received federal funds for reimbursement of hurricane cleanup, however, it was for 2016’s Hurricane Matthew.

During the Jan. 16 Orange Park council meeting, Town Manager Sarah Campbell announced the town has received $10,000 from the State of Florida as reimbursement from Hurricane Matthew cleanup. The Federal Emergency Management Agency disburses the funds to states and state governments then, in turn, dole out the funds accordingly.

“We submitted about $200,000 to FEMA related to Matthew clean up and FEMA has submitted all of the fund requests to the State of Florida,” Campbell said. “Florida has now begun slowly releasing requested funds to counties across the state.”

Following Hurricane Matthew, which hit in October of 2016, the town performed storm cleanup for about eight weeks, according to Campbell. This cleanup cost the town about $200,000. Hurricane Irma, which hit Florida in September of 2017, has already cost the town $1 million and costs are expected to continue rising as cleanup continues into March.

“We just wrapped up debris collection,” Campbell said. “Now, we are hauling and chipping the debris and we expect that to be completed by early March.

“Once that is complete, that will mark the end of our cleanup and associated costs,” Campbell continued. “That also marks the end of our FEMA submittals.”

If the Matthew reimbursement timeline is any indication, Orange Park won’t be seeing any Hurricane Irma reimbursement for quite a while.

In other business:

Earlier in the meeting, Campbell said the Fourth of July celebration agreement the council has made with Moosehaven, who hosts the celebration event, is the same as previous years. The town will donate a $10,000 sponsorship from the council for the American Pride Fofurth of July celebration slated for following Saturday, July 7.

Campbell said the reason for the move to the following Saturday is that it is hard for Moosehaven to find affordable talent on the actual holiday and because of the holiday falling on a weekday, Moosehaven fears that less people will attend because they might have to work the next day, and in turn, will make less money on the event. Moosehaven fronts nearly $40,000 for the celebration according to Campbell.

Moosehaven officials also believe they will get increased volunteer law enforcement support if the celebration takes place on Saturday.

Council memeber Gary Meeks said that celebrating the holiday later than the actual day is akin to celebrating Christmas in January and that in turn, he would be more comfortable with the celebration event taking place before the holiday, rather than after. Campbell said the problem with moving the celebration to the weekend prior to the holiday is that the mall hosts its Fourth of July celebration that weekend and in turn, the two events would likely be an attendance conflict. The council voted to 5-0 to defer the decision to move forward with the Moosehaven agreement until the next council meeting on Feb. 6, where the Moosehaven Executive Director John Capes will attend.

In other business, council member Ron Raymond suggested that the Town Hall Park should be renamed the Town Hall Memorial Park. Raymond believes that this renaming should take place because the park contains what he believes to be memorials – the dedicated fountain and the trees planted in honor of outstanding citizens and more. Meeks said that if the park is renamed to what Raymond is requesting, he fears that one day, a future town council will prevent events such as the farmer’s market and the fall festival from happening as hosting those events at the park would be deemed disrespectful to the memorial nature of the park. A motion was made to bring this renaming to fruition but the motion failed in a 1-4 vote, with Raymond being the only council member to vote yea.

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