Gainesville City Hall

Quiet zone supporters have come up with an alternate plan to have the quiet zone established.

The initial proposal for the issuance of $2.8 million in bonds to establish a quiet zone was voted down Nov. 8 — 829 For and 2,656 Against.

Gainesville resident Randy Jones presented the alternative proposal to the Gainesville City Council Tuesday evening. He said people were opposed to the tax increase, but not the quiet zone. The updated proposal looks to remedy this issue, as well as other objections that were raised against the quiet zone.

“Not many told me why or how they voted, but a lot of people said that they planned to vote against it, and the few people that I heard about who had expressed an objection, I went to them and said, ‘I understand you don’t want this to happen; why do you not want this to happen? Is it that you don’t want the quiet zone? Or is it that you don’t want to spend $2.8 million and borrow money?’” explained Jones. “Every one of them said, ‘It’s not the quiet zone I don’t want; it’s the taxes.”

The new plan will leave all nine crossings open, meet all the safety requirements of the FRA and be completed in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost. The new proposed plan will use Qwick Kurb channeling systems to prevent people from jumping the railroad crossing gate after the arms have gone down. 

“Five of the last seven incidents that have happened at the crossings here in Gainesville have been gate jumpers, people who tried to drive through after the gates had gone down… The installation of secondary safety measures can reduce gate jumping by up to 75 percent. The simplest, most cost-effective way to do that is channelization,” said Jones. “When introducing a Qwick Kurb… it’s approved by the Federal Railroad Administration, it’s manufactured here in the U.S. from recycled materials, it is warrantied for five years against vehicle damage and it’s immediately available. It’s in a warehouse in Florida; all we have to do is pick up the phone and order.”

Qwick Kurb will send representatives to teach Gainesville employees how to install the barriers. According to Jones, the installation will take no more than one day per crossing.

Jones estimated this new plan to cost a little over $208,000: $112,000 for the Qwick Kurb materials, $18,000 for new signage, and $9,000 for the installation labor with an additional 50% for additional railroad and soft costs that may come up in the process. All of this will be paid for by those who want the quiet zone.

“We’re just over $200,000 pledged. The city won’t have to pay a dime, we won’t have to raise any taxes,” said Jones. “All you have to do is apply to the Railroad Administration.”

The council took no action on Jones’ proposal.

GPD participation in federal support program

The council authorized the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) to continue participation in the Defense Logistics Agency Law Enforcement Support Office, which provides excess Department of Defense property to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  The Police Department has obtained equipment through this program in past years including the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle and the observation tower at no cost to the taxpayers of Gainesville.

“Right now, we’re not looking to get anything, but if we want that option, we have to do this,” said City Manager Barry Sullivan. “Plus, we have to continue to participate in this program if we want to keep our MRAP and if we want to keep our elevated tower, both of which we receive for free from the federal government.”

“We’ve been a participant in this program for many years,” explained Police Chief Kevin Phillips. “This is a new criteria that recently came out; we have to bring this before you each year to authorize participation. I feel the efforts are to increase public awareness of what the department is doing and transparency, which is understandable.” 

While a complete list of items available was presented to the council, the GPD is not currently requesting anything new. Approval from the council would be required before anything new was requested.

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