The county is seeking state grants to improve all three county sports fields.

On Sept. 17, county commissioner moved forward on a number of infrastructure projects to be funded with grant money.

Commissioners voted unanimously to sign a contract with North Florida Construction to build Carrabelle’s multi-use path, which will allow people to safely walk or bike between the Carrabelle Beach and the Crooked River Lighthouse. The path was designed by the Preble Rish engineering firm of Port St. Joe.

Commissioners also directed Preble-Rish to prepare bid and specifications for Oak Street in Lanark Village and the Bayshore/ Twin Lakes loop in Eastpoint, as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has sent the county the notice to proceed on both projects.

County Planner Alan Pierce reported that, while FDOT has classified Syrup Branch Bridge as “functionally obsolete” in a recent report, it is not structurally deficient and DOT is not recommending any changes to the weight limit on the bridge.

Next, the discussion turned to the upcoming FRDAP funding cycle for grants. Pierce said the county has until Sept. 30 to submit completed FRDAP applications.

Commissioners had discussed possible improvements to DW Wilson Park using FRDAP funding at an earlier meeting. The discussion was continued with reference to Vrooman and Kendrick sports parks.

Pierce said the planning office would seek a grant to upgrade Kendrick Park. After discussions with Parks and Recreation Director Nikki Millender, Pierce recommended requesting funds to build another baseball field furnished with a pitching machine for 7-to-8 year olds; a bathroom to serve the T-ball field, a small picnic shelter at T-ball field, and a large picnic pavilion to hold team meetings.

The commissioners unanimously accepted his recommendations.

Commissioner Pinki Jackel suggested seeking FRDAP money to convert an area across Patton Street from the Eastpoint Pavilion to a children’s park, but several people raised objections to the plan.

 Shannon Hartsfield, president of the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association said the area is congested with cars and boat trailers because it is close to the Eastpoint boat ramp.

“Nobody will take their kids to the pavilion area because of the people hanging out,” he said.

Jackel said the sheriff’s department is working hard to end loitering at the pavilion and church groups have begun to use it for functions.

 “I’ve gotten calls from people concerned about having children in that area with people hanging out and the store nearby. I can’t support a playground in a commercial district like that, and between two busy streets. I would like to see a bigger pavilion at Vrooman,” Commissioner Smokey Parrish said.

 “I agree. I don’t want to see anybody’s kid get hurt. I see two problems there, traffic and alcohol,” Commissioner Noah Lockley said.

“We purchased that property for parking for the ramp and pavilion. I have a problem with little kids running across the street. I’m not against anything for children. I’m just concerned about that area,” Commissioner Cheryl Sanders said.

Jackel said she did not believe the land was purchased for a particular purpose.

Commissioner William Massey said parking space was a big issue in the area of the Eastpoint ramp with people waiting as long as 40 minutes for a spot.

Hartsfield said the ramp was heavily used for at least nine months of the year.

Pierce said Millender wanted to request funds for a pavilion and T-ball field for Vrooman Park. Parrish suggested adding additional playground equipment to the request.

 “I would like to see this finalized,” Clerk of Courts Marcia Johnson said. “The recommendation was that the property be purchased for parking. I’m being told by seafood workers that we need parking.”

Jackel moved a request be made for funds to improve Vrooman Park and the motion passed unanimously.