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City of Madison applies for $700,000 grant

Nancy Taylor: Greene Publishing, Inc.

The Madison City Commission met on Tuesday, Feb.14 for a second public hearing concerning the FY2016 Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant. After some discussion, including the mention of an Interlocal Agreement between the City of Madison and Madison County (which the County approved Feb. 8), the City Commissioners voted to authorize the filing of this grant application, which is specifically for neighborhood revitalization.

Another item of discussion included a proposed fire assessment fee. City Attorney Clay Schnitker informed the Commission of the necessity of a study which must be completed prior to any changes to assessment fees. According to Schnitker, need must be shown to justify any fee changes.

The possibility of local medical marijuana dispensaries was another item brought before the Commission. Due to zoning issues, commissioners voted to place a temporary moratorium on the opening of any such dispensary until the Planning and Zoning Board could put guidelines in place.

City Manager Tim Bennett informed the Commission of a Small County Outreach Program Agreement between the City of Madison and the Florida DOT regarding the reconstruction of a portion of Range Avenue from Dade to Millinor streets. The grant for this project has already been awarded, and the engineering fees are included in the grant.

A representative from the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) spoke to the commission regarding a grant for the Competitive Florida Partnership Program. The proposed program would seek to start a program with youth and families working with local police to help keep young people on the right track. “The DJJ grant would be a step toward public safety,” City Manager Bennett stated in support of pursuing the grant.

Police Chief Reginald Alexander addressed the Commission concerning traffic issues in the downtown area. His proposed measures include: a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Range and Rutledge, a four-way stop sign the intersection of Hancock and Sumpter, additional parking near the intersection of Hancock and Sumpter (with limits on parking elsewhere in that area where safety is at risk), the addition of  “no parking” signs on the grassy areas near Little Pines Pediatric, set parking patterns on Range, ways to address speeding on Range between Livingston and Dade, and possible adjustments to signage at the “Y” on Captain Brown Road.

In reference to the areas where speeding is a concern in the downtown area between Livingston and Dade, Commissioner Cooks asked about the viability of placing speed-bumps. Alexander’s response was that speed bumps only slow drivers down for as long as it takes them to cross over the bumps.

Mayor Catron informed the Board that, per the City Charter, public input is not necessary on these issues as the Charter gives the police the decision-making authority on these issues. However, Chief Alexander came because he wanted input from the Commission.

Before the meeting adjourned, Commissioner Townsend thanked the police chief for the department’s increased presence.

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