Policing, Purple Pipes to Deer Moss Creek, that dadgum left turn lane at Palm and State Route 20, and the last day of construction on John Sims Parkway – all covered at the Niceville City Council Meeting in June.
Police Chief David Popwell gave an encouraging police report to the city’s leaders – Public Works Director Jonathan Laird gave a less favorable update about the installation of purple piping for reclaimed water for the eastern part of Niceivlle – and the council themselves had an at-length discussion about what to do about the turn lane from hell that the Florida Department of Transportation installed on John Sims Parkway by Niceville High School.
Niceville Police Chief David Popwell got to report another month of lower-than-average calls to the city’s 911 center this month: 3,255 in total. On average, the city receives around 3,700 calls per month. Typically, we see fewer calls for service in the summer than in the cooler months. Apparently, it’s just too hot outside to commit crimes. Speaking of which – fifteen arrests were made in May 2023 – far below the average of around 20 arrests we see in the city every month.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the mayor or a city council member note that John Sims Parkway is a state road (and, therefore, the city has no control over how it works), I’d have made about $10 in the last 24 hours. After all, the city council gets a lot of heat for the DOT’s fiasco of a traffic pattern change.
Luckily, no accidents have occurred there – yet, according to Chief Popwell – the most dangerous intersections in town are John Sims and Cedar (three accidents) and John Sims and SR-85 (four accidents).
But, Chief Popwell says that can be deceiving – especially when it comes to the new traffic pattern at the intersection of John Sims and Palm. “I can tell you we’ve had no crashes in that combobulated merge lane that they’ve got, but it’s just by sheer luck, is all I can tell you. It’s by sheer luck. It’s a very poor design,” Popwell told the council, “it’s going to happen.”
Good news on the John Sims Parkway front, though, Public Works Director Laird says construction will be complete, and everything will be moved (to the new construction project on SR-85) by Friday, June 16th. Just five months late – but who’s counting?
As it stands now – the City of Niceville will have to wait a while longer to get reclaimed water (which is way less expensive than potable water) in the eastern portion of Niceville, specifically in Deer Moss Creek. Councilman Sal Nodjomian told the council that he and Jonathon Laird had a series of meetings with leaders at Eglin Air Force Base about speeding up the permitting and easement process to get reclaimed water pipes on Eglin land so they could make their way to Deer Moss Creek and people in that neighborhood could stop using drinking water to tend to their lawns. Councilman Nodjomian added that he sent a memo to the base leadership summarizing the need for expediency on behalf of the people on the east side of town. Unfortunately, Laird reported that he is still awaiting Eglin’s response.
Not to be caught waiting, the pair added that they had ordered the required piping to be put into the ground where they could begin installing the reclaimed water piping. That piping will be here by the end of the month. “We’ve conjured up a plan that lets the city do everything that it can do as quickly as it can do within our current budget, so that when Eglin does give us permission to then operate within their easement, we’ve already knocked out 20-30%,” Nodjomian told the other council members.
Thursday evening is the big night for the two finalists for the city manager position. Recently-retired colonel and former Eglin General Counsel David Deitch and Walton County Deputy Planning Director Kristen Shell will have their final interview in front of the entire council. After their interviews, the city council will vote for their preferred city manager candidate.
The final interviews are open to the public (it’s a public meeting) and will take place in the council chambers starting at 6 pm on June 15th, 2023. We’ll of course, stream it live for those of you who are interested on our Facebook page and give you a recap in our weekly newsletter (which you can sign up for here).