Fellsmere leaders tweak plans for new City Hall, phase parking

FELLSMERE – Parking around Fellsmere’s current and future city halls is expected to see some changes, including smaller parking slots and phased lots.

The Fellsmere City Council has opted to hold off on installing a parking lot between County Road 512 and the Old Fellsmere School, which is expected to become the new Fellsmere City Hall once the $3 million worth of renovations are complete. The council also agreed to making individual parking spots smaller, freeing up more green space for landscaping.

Mark Mathes, the city’s new community development director, proposed the changes, telling the council that he would prefer the “gem of the town” not be obscured by a parking lot.

He added that he believes there will be enough parking elsewhere on the City Hall campus to accommodate the city’s needs with on-street angled parking on Orange Street and parking to the rear of the current city hall.

“I would personally have no problem with that,” Mayor Susan Adams said of phasing the parking needs. “I like that idea.”

Even more parking will be available once the annex building behind the council chambers is removed. The offices located in the annex will be relocated to the new City Hall. The council chambers will remain in its current location.

City Manager Jason Nunemaker told the council that the city would also be modifying the stormwater retention area on the southwest corner of the property in order to better accommodate the Frog Leg Festival’s need for space.

He said that staff was working to balance the need for as much stormwater retention as possible for future development on the site with the need for open space for such events as the Frog Leg Festival.

Adams told the council she has spoken with the Frog Leg Festival Committee about the proposed changes to the City Hall Master Plan. The committee appeared supportive of the changes, she said.

“All seem happy at this point,” Adams said.

Renovations to the Old Fellsmere School are expected to wrap up by mid-July per the contract between the city and contractor, Doug Wilson Enterprises. The firm was hired in 2008 to perform the work and last year said they hoped to have the work done by the end of 2009.

Fire safety issues cropped up that needed to be resolved and an electrical easement with Florida Power and Light needed to be created – both of which held up the contractor’s work, according to Nunemaker.

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