Zoo gets funding

Frank Buck Zoological Society president Karen Cook (center) presents a $50,000 check to Gainesville Mayor Glen Loch (left) and City Manager Barry Sullivan as members of the zoological society look on. The funds will help with the zoo’s operating expenses.

Once again the Gainesville City Council considered a resolution approving a measure which should help oil production equipment manufacturer Orteq with its plan to build a new facility in Gainesville.

During its regular city council meeting Tuesday night, the council voted to approve on second reading a land swap between the Gainesville Economic Development Corporation and Orteq. Under the agreement Orteq would return to the GEDC 20 acres of land it had planned to use for expansion near FM 1201.

In return Orteq will get a parcel of property near a building it is already using at the site of the former Major Rig company located in the 3400 block of West U.S. Highway 82.

“(The agreement) would provide Orteq with 14 additional acres,” City Manager Barry Sullivan noted, adding, “The company needs room to grow. They need, I believe, two additional buildings.”

The land swap would allow the GEDC to then sign the land over to the city and proceeds from the sale of the property would be used for airport improvements.

The Orteq facility is expected to generate about 75 new jobs when the company opens later this year.

The Orteq deal has been in the works since last spring.

The city also looked at improving the quality of life for local children and visitors as it considered a resolution in support of efforts by Community Parks of Gainesville Inc. to build an addition to the playground at Leonard Park.

Sullivan reminded the council that the city isn’t footing the bill for the expansion. Community Parks of Gainesville Inc. is spearheading the project.

Mayor Pro Temp Jim Goldsworthy said the build date for the project is March 7-12 and he believes approximately 1,200 volunteers will participate.

“The project is a go,” Goldsworthy said. “(Organizers) have had just a fantastic response from the community.”

He said everyone who can contribute to the construction project should consider volunteering.

“You really wanna be a part of this one,” he said.

Next, Mayor Glen Loch opened a public hearing on an application by Liquid Environmental Solutions for a commercial waste hauling franchise.

Sullivan said a city ordainance requires commericial waste hauling enterprises to obtain a franchise in order to operate within the city.

Liquid Environmental Solutions is seeking a franchise so it contract to haul away food waste products from Walmart Supercenter.

Sullivan said the agreement seems like a good deal.

“This would provide another avenue to get rid of waste instead of taking it to a landfill,” he said.

He also pointed out that the Liquid Environmental Solutions franchise wouldn’t compete with any of the city’s recycling services.

“We don’t recycle food,” he noted.

After some debate, the council voted to close the public hearing, suspend the city charter which requires three readings and approve granting a non-exclusive franchise to Liquid Environmental Solutions.

Councilmember Beverly Snuggs also noted that the Liquid Environmental Solutions franchise does not amount to a monopoly on food waste hauling services.

“Another company could make an agreement with another store,” she pointed out.

The council also:

• Recognized Gary Schumacher as employee of the month. Schumacher works in the city’s water department.

• Heard from Frank Buck Zoological Society President Karen Cook. During her presentation, Cook gave the city $50,000 for the Frank Buck Zoo. After the meeting, Sullivan noted that the money will help pay some of the increased operational costs at the zoo.

• Held a public comments forum during which hangar operator Kevin Brown requested a sewer line at his hangar facility.

• Approved the minutes of the Dec. 21 council meeting.

• Approved the appointments of Doris Koesler, Paige Davidson, Johnny Leftwich and Randy Harper to the Main Street Board.

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