April 24, 2019 — The Florence City Council met Monday evening under much different circumstances than previous meetings this year. There was a short agenda posted for the Council with few members of the community in attendance, unlike last month’s meeting which was held at the FEC to allow for a large public turnout. Councilor Joshua Greene was excused from the meeting, but all other councilors were in attendance.
Mayor Joe Henry began the meeting by issuing two proclamations. The first was in support of Arbor Day, which originated in Nebraska in 1872.
Henry stated his personal affinity for trees and the positive benefits to society accrued by the planting of trees on Arbor day before reading the following.
“Whereas, Arbor Day is now observed throughout the nation and the world; and whereas, trees can reduce the erosion of our precious topsoil by wind and water, cut heating and cooling costs, moderate the temperature, clean the air, produce life-giving oxygen and provide habitat for wildlife; and whereas, trees are a renewable resource giving us paper, wood for our homes, fuel for our fires and countless other wood products; and whereas, trees in our city increase property values, enhance the economic vitality of business areas and beautify our community; and whereas, trees, wherever they are planted, are a source of joy and spiritual renewal, I, Joe Henry, Mayor of the City of Florence, do hereby proclaim April 26, 2019, Arbor Day in the City of Florence,” Henry’s proclamation read.
Arbor Day’s roots stem back to President Grover Cleveland’s Secretary of Agriculture, J. Sterling Morton, who used his contacts as a former newspaper editor to spread the word throughout the Nebraska about the need to plant trees. As a result, 1 million trees were planted on April 10, 1872. That tradition quickly spread across the country and, today, all 50 states have some form of Arbor Day celebration. Arbor Day is observed on different days due to preferred planting times in specific areas of the country.
Members of the city’s Environmental Management Advisory Committee (EMAC) accepted the proclamation from Henry as appreciation for the work done by EMAC in regard to the intersection of municipal practices and the environment.
The second proclamation Henry read was presented to the Board of Directors for Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Western Lane County in recognition of the work done by the group for the Florence area’s youth.
Unlike recent meetings, there were no requests from the public to speak on a subject not on the agenda and Henry moved to the single consent item on the agenda. This item was a request from Novelli’s Crab and Seafood, located at 100 Harbor St., for city approval of an LLC Liquor License.
The request was presented to councilors by Florence City Recorder Kelly Weese and included documents presented to the city in support of Novelli’s application, which was approved with little discussion.
Weese then opened a public hearing on the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce’s request to close a section of Maple Street in Historic Old Town for the 2019 Rhododendron Festival.
Weese took the councilors through the process required of an applicant who wishes to close a street or a segment of a street, as is the case with the chamber’s application for closure.
Weese mentioned in her remarks the current application for closure was the most recent in a series of previous requests for this particular closure. Weese indicated that the applicant’s familiarity with the city requirements continued to make the process somewhat easier each year.
“The applicant must provide quite a bit of information in order to propose a street closure. They need to think about how residents and visitors, emergency vehicles and deliveries are going to get through to where they need to go if you close off a portion of the street or the street itself,” Weese said.
Weese directed the council’s attention to the materials provided by the chamber, which indicated the necessary paperwork had been completed and additional concerns regarding placement of trash receptacles and restrooms were also in order.
There were no members of the public that wished to speak on the closure and two comments received by the city via email were entered into the record.
The closure was quickly approved with no questions asked of the applicant.
The final presentation of the evening was given by Public Works Director Mike Miller, who was requesting the council take the next step in the ongoing Safe Routes to School Pedestrian Crossings Project.
Miller first recapped the state and federal highway funded projects that his department is working on and asked for approval from the council to move forward by accepting the engineering services proposal from OBEC Consulting Engineers. OBEC has submitted a proposal to manage the engineering, surveying and construction management of these projects and Miller asked the council to approve this proposal.
There was a brief discussion regarding the city’s fiscal responsibility regarding the crosswalk project, which is a 20 percent financial commitment; the request to proceed was approved unanimously.
The next Florence City Council meeting will be held on May 6.