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FGC President Calls for Joint City-County-College Meeting to Discuss Issues of Concern

Commissioner Ronald Williams with caption: "There got to be some kinda problem. He wouldn't be asking for a meeting."
Columbia County Observer photo & graphic

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Last night, tacked on to the end of the County’s agenda, was a request by Florida Gateway College President Dr. Larry Barrett for a joint City-County-FGC meeting to discuss seven items of concern.


At the August FGC Board meeting, President Barrett explained to the Governor’s Board that there were issues that needed to be addressed between the City, County, and the College.

He said, “I would suggest that we have - I have a meeting with the City Council and the County Commissioners and just lay it out. I think it would probably be controversial, but I’m not lookin’ for that. I’m just lookin’ for solutions to the college problems."

There was some discussion among the College Trustees.

Dr. Barrett said that he probably should have brought the issues to the Board. However, he thought he could work it out.

College Attorney Marlin Feagle said, "Somehow, we have to get to the Councilmen."

The Trustees authorized Mr. Feagle to write a letter to the County and the City for a joint meeting.

FGC President Larry Barrett addresses the Governor's FGC Board
During the August FGC Board meeting, Dr. Barrett took to the lecturn to address the Governor''s Board about the urgency of meeting with the City and County. All the attendees are FGC staff members.                                                                                        +++ enlarge

County Manager Kraus Opens the County Discussion

Mr. Kraus told the County 5, “You received a letter this week from Marlin Feagle, representative of Florida Gateway College.”

It was the letter in which the College proposed a meeting with the County 5 and the City Council.

The College included an agenda of seven items.

1.  Ownership/easements of main water and sewer lines on College property;
2.  Discrepancies in ownership of a parcel of land at the Lake City Airpark;
3.  Potential runway expansion of the Lake City Airport;
4.  Potential closure plans and relocation of Timberwolf Drive;
5.  Potential increase of significant traffic on Timberwolf Drive by development of a multi-use apartment complex;
6.  Discussion of stormwater issues causing flooding issues at the college;
7.  Discussion of potential grants.

If the County 5 agreed to meet with the college trustees, the meeting would require a resolution and an agenda advertisement. This was something The 5 learned the hard way at its illegal meeting in Fort White, the illegality of which is still being ignored by the County Attorney Joel Foreman and the County 5. (See: The Columbia County 5 Fort White Fiasco: Legal Meetings Are Difficult for Them & County Attorney Joel Foreman)

Commissioner Williams told The 5:  “The only thing on that letter that concerns the Board of County commissioners was Timberwolf Lane or Drive. I don't want to do anything to negate the City's ability to extend the runway in the future like we did in the past. We have a layout now of the new alignment of once the City want to expand that runway -- we have a layout now of how that road would be accessed back to the US 90. I don't see where we need to meet and talk about a road when we've already had - have already come up with a design.”

Mr. Kraus explained the County has a map, but it never made it to the website.

Mr. Kraus said, “If the City ever extends the runway, we would need to take Timberwolf and move it to the other side of LKQ (an auto junkyard), cutting through the industrial park straight to 90. They would still have access to 90. We would just have to move the road.”

Commissioner Ford asked, “Mr. Kraus, does the whole Board of County Commissioners need to attend this meeting, or can I represent them?”

Mr. Kraus explained that would be The 5’s decision.

Commissioner Ford asked if FGC representative Mike McKee would like to speak?

FGC's Mike McKeeMr. McKee came to the microphone: “We just wanted to have an opportunity for the County and the City to get together with our trustees. We've got some issues that we wanted to be able to discuss in an open forum – some issues that we have with the City and the County, and we just wanted to get the information out to you, unfiltered. We do plan on making it a live meeting as well and recording it for those who can't make it.”

Commissioner Murphy followed up: “I look forward to it… Collectively, for the future growth of Columbia County…the College as a whole is a very viable thing…transparency for the taxpayers of Columbia County. I support it 100%. I look forward to it.”

Earlier it came to light that Commissioners Witt and Ford would be at some conference in Palm Beach. They didn't give any details.

Commissioner Williams said that he wasn’t “gonna have a meetin’ and discuss things in his (Mr. Witt’s) district without him being there… Let me know what the concerns are upfront.”

Mr. McKee followed up, “We don't expect any decisions to be made. We just want there to be a dialogue to where we can get everything out on the table.”

Commissioner Ford asked, “Can we call in?”

County Attorney Foreman said they couldn't "actually vote," which they wouldn't do anyway because it is a workshop.

Commissioner Ford asked if the meeting could happen at the auditorium.

He was told that it could and that the County's IT department could arrange for call-in access.


Commissioner Williams concluded the discussion, “There got to be some kinda problem. He [President Barrett] wouldn't be asking for a meeting.”

The 5 tabled the meeting discussion until September 9.

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