City officials have made strides in improving Port St. Joe’s parks in recent weeks, according to updates provided during the Dec. 7 city commission meeting.
In the earlier meeting, City Accountant Mike Lacour shared that improvements to Buck Griffin Lake Park had been completed since the city’s November meeting and that FEMA had agreed to reimburse the $106,000 price tag.
“We did finish the Buck Griffin Lake project,” he said. “And we did get word today from the state and FEMA that they’ve approved the reimbursement of the $106,000 in expenses for the bridges and the sidewalks, so that’s being processed.”
In addition to updated bridges and sidewalks, Commissioner for Group 4 Scott Hoffman said that arrangements were being made to replenish fish populations that were decimated in the man-made reservoir following Hurricane Michael. In a few months, the commissioner said he hopes populations would be high enough to support a youth fishing tournament in the park.
“They did a fish shocking assessment of part of the lake, and based on the low numbers, they are approaching the restocking as if there were zero fish in the lake,” Hoffman said. “I believe they will be starting that early spring, and they have an amount of catfish, bass and panfish that will be going into the lake.”
The FWC has provided the city with aerators for the lake free of charge in hopes of keeping fish populations healthy going forward.
“I’m hoping by late fall of next year we’ll be able to host some kids fishing tournaments, and we are feeding the fish,” Hoffman continued.
Mayor Rex Buzzett said that he had already been approached by George Duren about a sponsorship of a youth tournament through Bluewater Outriggers. The park used to host an event of this nature annually.
Lacour said that with improvements to Buck Griffin Lake well underway, the city would be able to shift focus to some of its remaining projects, including improvements to several other community parks.
“This will only leave us with three open projects,” he said. “The wastewater treatment plant, which we’re submitting that reimbursement request now, and then the two open projects are maddox park and Clifford Sims. And we’re getting close on FEMA and look forward to moving those other two projects forward.”
City Engineer John Baxley said that progress had been made at George Sims park in recent weeks, explaining that designers had been hard at work coming up with a presentation to secure funding.
“Clifford Sims Park, that’s in design,” he said. “I have a 30 percent plan set to review this week, so we’re moving along on that one.”
Hoffman indicated that a new fishing pier would be built at the park, which is one of the most beloved by city residents.
Baxley believed that he could have designs sent off for consideration following the commission’s Dec. 14 meetion, which, barring any serious problems, would allow for progress to be made early in the new year.