Following the lead of the county Board of Supervisors, which approved an equal amount of funding at its last meeting, the Floyd Town Council on Feb. 6 approved $25,000 in funding for “critical need” valve replacements throughout the Public Service Authority’s water system.
Councilman Bruce Turner, who also serves as the Chairman of the Public Service Authority, told the Council “I’m looking at cutting down on donations we give out (next year),” with respect to the upcoming budget process for the next fiscal year. “We’re putting out a lot of money this year,” he added. Turner said this was particularly true in light of what he was about to ask the Council—to contribute a significant amount of money to water system repairs.
“The Board of Supervisors was gracious enough to give $25,000, and I’m going to ask the town to do the same,” Turner said. At its meeting on Jan. 28, the county government approved up to $25,000 in funding, contingent on the town contributing an equal amount to the valve replacement project.
“We’ve had some issues the last year or so with having water line breaks,” Turner said. “The valves are just like the lines, they’re pretty old. The PSA came up with a valve replacement plan where 12 valves are critical need,” he explained, with an estimated cost between $35,000 and $51,000 for replacement. Turner told the Council that valves being faulty or out of commission means a larger portion of the PSA’s customers lose water service every time a line breaks—because shutting down more lines to circumvent the faulty valves is the only way to make the repair.
According to Turner, there are about 500 people served by PSA water lines, with about half living in the town and county respectively. Councilman Chris Bond supported the motion to fund the valve replacement, emphasizing the precarious nature of the water system. “With the water system, you just kind of hold your breath,” Bond said. “I don’t see how we don’t (fund the repairs.)” The motion passed unanimously.
Also during Thursday’s meeting, the Town Council held a public hearing on the transfer of its stake in the Floyd-Floyd County Recreation Park to the county—but ultimately tabled the issue until Mayor Will Griffin, who was absent, could weigh in on the transfer. Vice-Mayor Mike Patton called the transfer of the park deed “the most dramatic issue that came before this table in 2019,” and indicated he hoped for a resolution during the meeting.
However, Town Attorney Jim Shortt relayed to the Council that County Attorney Steve Durbin had asked the town to define “recreation” in the deed prior to making the transfer. At the Board of Supervisors meeting, Courthouse District Supervisor Jerry Boothe raised concerns about the provision which would allow the deed to revert to the Town of Floyd if the county used the land at the recreation park for any purpose other than “recreation.” Examples of activities which may not qualify were cited at the Supervisors meeting, and included dog walking and holding a concert.
“I don’t have a problem with concerts or dog-walking,” Councilman Turner said in response to these concerns. “I think as long as they’re not building multiple buildings down there or something, I don’t see a problem,” he added.
Councilman Bond pointed out, “(The Supervisors) want us to define it,” be expressed trepidation because once you start delineating what qualifies as recreation, you’re bound to leave something out. “The more the park can be used, the better,” Bond said.
Turner said the Council should allow for a fairly lenient definition, since the Recreation Department would be hosting events at the park to fundraise, and the town shouldn’t limit which events were permissible in that context.
Shortt suggested to the council that it include the dictionary definition of “recreation” in the transfer agreement, while listing a couple examples but emphasizing that eligible events and activities were not limited to those examples. “You can approve the sale, subject to the approval of this definition,” Shortt told the council, but the council ultimately decided to table the matter for the night.
The Council moved one step closer to approving a park use policy on Thursday night. Town Manager Kayla Cox asked Dylan Locke, co-owner of the Floyd Country Store, for input on the capacity of Warren G. Lineberry Park, and he told her that the best-attended event probably saw 400-500 people, but that 500 people was not the limit.
Cox amended the draft park use policy to set the event capacity at 550 people, but noted that it will be difficult for event hosts to monitor closely. Cox also proposed deposits in the amount of $100 without the use of electricity and water, or $250 with the use of those utilities. An additional park use fee may be imposed for for-profit ventures held at the park, Cox said. According to Vice-Mayor Patton, the Councilmen will finalize their changes at the next meeting on Feb. 20, and Cox will offer a final draft policy for passage by the council on March 5.