The Lake County Board of County Commissioners held a public meeting on Thursday, November 13, 1997, at 7:00 p.m., at the Plantation Clubhouse, Plantation at Leesburg, Leesburg, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: William "Bill" H. Good, Chairman; G. Richard Swartz, Jr., Vice Chairman; and Catherine C. Hanson (Commr. Hanson arrived at 8:00 p.m.). Others present were: Alvin Jackson, Chief Deputy Manager; and Marlene S. Foran, Deputy Clerk.
There were approximately 300 citizens present.
Mr. Murray Hoffinger welcomed Commr. Good and Commr. Swartz, on behalf of the Plantation Residents Organization, to the meeting this date for the purpose of discussing fire protection services.
Mr. George Goodman, President, Plantation Residents Board, introduced Commr. Good, Commr. Swartz and Mr. Earl Theale, Director of Operations. He recognized the following communities that were present in the audience: Waterwood, Highland Lakes, Lake Harris Landing, Ridgecrest, Royal Highlands, and South Lake County.
Mr. Mal LaShay, Co-Chairman, briefly discussed the guidelines for participation in the discussion on fire protection services this evening.
Commr. Good discussed the level of service for fire protection in Lake County, what Lake County was trying to achieve, and what that might involve. He presented a map of Lake County illustrating the locations of the twenty-seven (27) volunteer fire stations and explained that Lake County could not move into the future without continuing volunteer service in some areas of the County. He stated that the response time from Station 81, located in Yalaha, was eight (8) minutes to Highland Lakes and nine (9) minutes to the Plantation at Leesburg, and that the response time from Station 83, located in Okahumpka, was five (5) minutes to Highland Lakes and six (6) minutes to the Plantation at Leesburg. At this time, he presented statistical information on fire protection in Lake County, noting that Lake County had 150 to 200 volunteers, 27 paid firefighters and 6 part time firefighters; and 105 pieces of fire equipment covering the unincorporated areas and four cities. He stated that between January 1997 to June 1997 there were 72 alarms, 67 vehicle fires, 316 brush fires, and 566 vehicle accident calls. Commr. Good briefly discussed the Citizen's Guide to Lake County's Budget, which had been distributed prior to the start of the meeting. He stated that one of the ways to pay for increased fire protection service would be to raise the fire assessment, and stated that an appropriate level of service for fire protection needs to be determined by the residents of Lake County. He further stated that the Lake County Fire Rescue Advisory Board would present a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners in February on countywide fire protection services.
Commr. Swartz presented a brief historical perspective of fire protection services in Lake County. He stated that input from the citizens of Lake County would help determine changes in the level of service and funding for fire protection services. At this time, he briefly discussed proposed changes in the report by the Lake County Fire Rescue Advisory Board.
At this time, questions and comments pertaining to fire service, level of service, funding, population growth, location of fire stations, response time, and preventative maintenance for fire hydrants were presented by local citizens, and Commr. Good and Commr. Swartz responded to each question and comment.
Mr. Carl Famina stated that the Plantation at Leesburg had donated 1.5 acres of land in 1989 for a fire station adjacent to the Plantation and, in 1991, the Plantation contributed $75,000 to construct the fire station. He stated that the fire station was built and equipped in 1993; however, Chief Craig Haun closed the station in 1994. He questioned if the County would entertain a proposal made by the citizens, on an interim basis until such time that the studies have been completed, for the citizens to provide funding to reopening the fire station, and provide funding for equipment and staff.
Commr. Swartz addressed the issue of the closing of the fire station, and stated that the Board of County Commissioners would take into consideration a proposal made by the citizens to provide funding, on an interim basis, to be used for reopening the fire station located adjacent to the Plantation at Leesburg and to provide equipment and staff.
Mr. Edward Cause, 26030 Oakmont Drive, requested information on the maintenance program for fire hydrants and expressed concern that the fire hydrant located on his property has never received maintenance.
Commr. Good noted that staff would address maintanance of the fire hydrant located on Mr. Cause's property.
There being no further questions and comments, the meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.
__________________________________ WILLIAM "BILL" H. GOOD, CHAIRMAN
JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK