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Date of Issue: November 01, 2007

Tot land to join skate park

Holmes Beach plans to create a tiny playground for tiny tots in an area near the city’s skate park.

Mayor Rich Bohnenberger announced the “tot lot” during a city commission meeting Oct. 23.

The announcement came as the mayor and city commissioners discussed when the skate park, closed due to vandalism, might re-open.

Bohnenberger said a private citizen offered to pay for a high-tech video surveillance system but the exact system had not yet been selected.

Repairs to the park, including the replacement of a safety railing, also need to be made. The mayor wants a reliable surveillance system that includes night-vision or another feature for nighttime protections.

Carol Whitmore, a former mayor and current county commissioner, urged city officials to move quickly to accommodate the many skateboarders who love the park and were not involved in the vandalism on Oct. 8.

Police, after questioning about a dozen youngsters, arrested one teenager on a criminal mischief misdemeanor and recommended two children for teen court.

Morton suggested the city encourage parents to volunteer to stand watch at the skate park, adding that he and his wife would take a shift.

“I don’t like the park being shut down for a few misguided kids,” Morton said.

Bohnenberger then said he wanted to create a “tot lot” play area nearby.

“The theory is families with kids in different age groups will spend some time there and mind the little ones and big ones,” the mayor said.

The “tot lot” would include some playground equipment, including two slides designed for children up to age 6.

As to repairing the skate park, Bohnenberger said he wanted to wait to put in the play equipment until the surveillance system is installed.

In other business last week, city commissioners set aside a proposal to replace the code enforcement board with a special magistrate.

Commissioners had expressed concern about absenteeism on the board and a lack of citizens interested in serving. But in recent weeks, at least four people have applied to serve on the board, which presently has two vacancies.

To members of the code enforcement board seated in the audience, Commissioner John Monetti said, “I want to thank you for your dedication. I hope we don’t have to address (this again) anytime in the near future.”

During the commission’s work session, officials also briefly discussed a proposed ordinance increasing the dollar amount that city department chiefs can spend without the mayor’s preview and also increasing the dollar amount the city can spend without seeking bids.

The proposed ordinance states, “The purchasing and bid procedure is outdated with regards to the amount of money that department heads may spend on purchase orders without mayoral approval and with regards to the threshold amount for formal bid procedures.”

The ordinance would increase the maximum that department heads can spend from $250 to $500 and trigger a bidding process on purchases exceeding $25,000.

“I approve every check before it goes out the door,” the mayor said, informing the commission that he still would have a final review on purchases.

The ordinance will come up for the first of two readings at the commission meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13.