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West Orange Times & Observer Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015 3 years ago

Ocoee Commission approves moving African-American Memorial

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by: Zak Kerr Staff Writer/Reporter

OCOEE -- Among several items related to the Ocoee Human Relations Diversity Board (HRDB) addressed at the Aug. 18 Ocoee City Commission meeting was the relocation of the African-American Memorial currently located in the right-of-way of Basking Ridge Court.

HRDB members have had concerns that the memorial is too hard to find, has insufficient visibility and sits in a spot potentially conducive to vandalism.

Recent HRDB meetings led to District 4 Commissioner Joel Keller, the commission's liaison for the HRDB, coming up with an idea to move the memorial to the Lakeshore Center Memorial Plaza on Oakland Avenue. Keller said uncertainty remained as to whether the area was actually the location of a black cemetery.

The commission mulled exactly where the memorial should go, with District 3 Commissioner Rusty Johnson saying it should be separate from the veterans' memorial already in place there. Commissioners ultimately reached a consensus on a triangular area near the veterans' memorial that would allow better oversight and more prominent display.

Keller said this was in accordance with the HRDB recommendation, also noting the area would offer more parking.

The commission asked for the opinion of HRDB member Bill Maxwell, who said he had inherited an obligation to this matter from former Ocoee Mayor Lester Dabbs.

"My opinion as a veteran, as a resident and as a taxpayer is that as we look at this valuable memorial right now from both a monetary point of view and a humanistic point of view, from a historical point of view, we're not protecting the investment," Maxwell said.

He said the location has allowed easy access for anyone to vandalize or relatively easily tip the memorial because of a lack of a firm base.

"(Relocating) it would be be the city's way of saying, 'We look upon this as a time in our past; we will honor that time in our past; and we will set it aside in a place with those who will come back with remembrances of that day and time that they can go to and look at,'" Maxwell said.

OTHER HRDB ITEMS

The commission unanimously passed an ordinance amendment specifying a maximum of three members of the HRDB being from outside the city and disallowing anyone from outside the city from occupying its final spot. This issue arose in consideration of waving the residency requirement for the reappointment of Barbara Anne Boudokhane to the HRDB, which the commission again delayed until its next meeting.

The HRDB received commission approval to waive fees for HRDB allowing International Cultural Exposition use of Lakeshore Center and Bill Breeze Park May 13-14.

CODE ENFORCEMENT

Mayor John Grogan presented the idea of sunsetting the Code Enforcement Board and having an attorney as a special magistrate. The idea would be to avoid getting minimal return on almost every lien reduction in Ocoee, especially with the city losing money, he said.

An example at this meeting was the commission's unanimous approval of a lien reduction for 1000 Center St., from $152,100 to $2,521, just to cover city expenses.

District 2 Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen said the commission would ask for the input of residents, such as those who have lived near noncompliant properties.

IN OTHER NEWS

  • The Ocoee Lions Club received fee waivers for its Fourth Annual Texas Hold'em Tournament and Eyeglass Collection Day, Oct. 24 at Tom Ison Center. The club encourages attendees to provide used glasses and glasses cases for cleaning and reuse by those who cannot afford them.
  • The commission approved use of the Ocoee Police Department's $10,551 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistant Grant to buy four police mobile incident command centers for watch commander vehicles.
  • The commission passed a measure allowing the police to spend up to $3,000 from its forfeiture account to buy gift cards to give providers of guns in the "Kicks 4 Guns" turn-in program, scheduled for 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 20 at HighPoint Church.
  • The annual rate resolution for the 2016 fiscal year fire protection assessment garnered unanimous commission approval. Identified differences will affect 152 property owners, all of whom received notification by mail, except for two confidential addresses and three undeliverable addresses.

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].

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