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The City Council toyed with the idea of going back to the drawing board on the Tom Varn Stadium project on Nov. 15, but ultimately voted 4-1, with Vice Mayor Robert Battista dissenting, to move forward with engineering consultant DRMP’s Alternative No. 1.

BROOKSVILLE — The City Council toyed with the idea of going back to the drawing board on the Tom Varn Stadium project on Nov. 15, but ultimately voted 4-1, with Vice Mayor Robert Battista dissenting, to move forward with engineering consultant DRMP’s Alternative No. 1.

In this option, according to the report in the Nov. 1 workshop, “This alternative is based on the existing masonry walls to remain, and a new partial height independent concrete wall be constructed behind the existing masonry walls and at the dugout level.”

It’s the most expensive option and could end up costing as much as $750,000, and it’s the option that will take the most time. Mayor Pat Brayton said that under DRMP’s timeline, the stadium work might not be finished until sometime in the first half of 2023, which also will push costs into the next budget year.

Council member Betty Erhard noted with frustration that DRMP didn’t send a representative to the meeting, but echoed others who said that the longer they delayed making a decision, the longer it would take before the stadium could be used.

The field might be usable in the interim, though members of the public said the loss of the bleachers could have a negative effect on the players, who won’t have their parents rooting for them in the stands.

City Manager Ron Snowberger pointed out that with all the publicity and the existence of a report, one person’s suggestion that nothing be done was impractical from a liability standpoint. Despite a claim that the stadium “looks” sound, it’s not, Snowberger said, and must be dealt with.

Closing the field and causing softball and baseball tournaments to shrink their participation might be inconvenient, Battista said, but other schools in the region are closing their fields and seating areas for needed repair work, too.

Sheriff’s response time

Lt. David Lewis of the Sheriff’s Office gave an update on response times to calls in the city, showing that on several calls to the 911 center response times were not delayed unless calls were downgraded because the calls themselves happened after the incidents being reported or because the owner had cleared a property.

In a theft at 10 S. Main St., for example, the deputy arrived in 6 minutes and 37 seconds after being dispatched. In a robbery at 503 S. Main St., the deputy arrived 6 minutes and 12 seconds after being dispatched. In a burglary at 100 S. Main St., the deputy arrived at 7 minutes and 44 seconds.

Since January 2020, two calls in the city have been held for more than an hour because of higher-priority calls that came in.

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The council approved a measure recognizing Nov. 27 as Small Business Saturday.

In other action

• The council approved a measure recognizing Nov. 27 as Small Business Saturday.

• The council approved 5-0 staff’s recommendations for policy action and legislative funding support for facilitating annexation of unincorporated areas; a grant program for electrical vehicle charging infrastructure; state funding for local homelessness programs; and legislation and policies to encourage coordination on economic development. Projects to be pressed include a stormwater conveyance program, a critical facility power backup plan, parks infrastructure improvements and reclaimed water for the Hernando Oaks Golf Course.

• The council approved 4-1 the purchase of a Ford F-150 4x4 pickup truck for $34,047.52 for use by building department officials. Erhard dissented, and said she didn’t think the city needed a 4x4 truck.

• The council heard an update from the city manager on the situation involving the “Equine” sculpture outside City Hall. Snowberger said he sent a certified letter to the artist and received an unsigned receipt back; efforts to contact James Oleson have continued to be unsuccessful. In the meantime, someone painted the sculpture black over the weekend, and a report was made to the Sheriff’s Office. Vice Mayor Battista said he thought he saw two people using a trash can liner as a drop cloth around the sculpture recently, but no painting was authorized.

• Council member Erhard thanked the fire department for rescuing her kitten out of a tree.

• Sitting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, the council approved the $19,999.70 purchase of 44 retractable bollards, plus $1,400 for freight and approved a budget amendment.

• The council approved 5-0 a new design template for the city’s website, and heard a presentation on council chamber technical upgrades.

• Approved 5-0 entering into Joint Planning Agreement discussions with the county.