CHIPLEY - The City of Chipley reviewed several on-going projects with the council met in workshop Thursday and will take further action when the board meets in regular session Tuesday.

City Administrator Dan Miner advised the board the Interstate 10 utilities expansion project is slated for completion by the end of the year. The project is part of an effort to increase economic growth opportunities by expanding infrastructure along the I-10/State Road 77 interchange to include drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, and roadway improvements. The project is designed to protect surrounding environmental features and provide future collection, treatment and distribution of water utilities.

Miner also gave contract award recommendations based on scoring and by the selection committee, recommending the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Pine Avenue sidewalk project construction and engineering inspection services be awarded to Alday-Howell Engineering, Inc. and project design for the Fifth Street and Old Bonifay Road drainage improvements be awarded to Mott MacDonald.

Miner advised the council that the project at Pals Park will soon move into Phase IIIV following a $50,000 grant agreement with Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FDEP; FRDAP). The grant will allow the city to continue improvements at the park, including adding new playground features, extending sidewalks, and renovating restroom facilities.

The city also discussed the Chipley Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Alleyway Project, which is intended to improve the alleyway connecting South Railroad Avenue and the city's parking lot on the northwest corner of State Roads 77 and 90. CRA will contract with PolyEngineering, Inc. of Dothan, Alabama for design, data acquisition, permitting, constriction procurement, and services during construction to resurface the alleyway at a price of $9,100.

Bruce A. Bradley, President of PolyEngineering addressed previous environmental concerns about the area due to monitoring wells located within the footprint of the alleyway in a letter to Miner, stating there are 24 monitoring wells associated with the area, spread over about six city blocks, mostly to the north and east of the site.

"Those wells were placed for a dry cleaner trust fund project for the old Jay Lee Cleaners," stated Bradley. "That project is still active … The alleyway project will affect one deep monitoring well and three shallow wells; however FDEP has no objections to the construction proposed for the alleyway project. They would appreciate an opportunity to review the plans, although the city is not required to send them to FDEP for review."

The letter also stated soil contamination is not expected to be an issue.

In other business, the council was informed by City Attorney Michelle Jordan that she received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation challenging the city's nativity scene. The letter claimed the display was unconstitutional, but Jordan advised council members the city is not in violation of the Constitution.

"We had more than one display out there," said Jordan. "All the cases cited in the letter had to do with single displays and are from other circuits. The city's display was challenged by this same group in 2013, and at that point, we only had the nativity scene. I advised the council then to have a display with other secular items, and the council followed that advice. We now display a holiday tree in addition to the nativity scene and are in compliance with the standards of the Constitution, as well as the 11th circuit."

The council also heard from Code Enforcement department head Brock Tate, who advised the council that two certified letters have been served for property located at 490 North Second Street following the noncompliant building of a fence. The fence has since been taken down, and the property owner has been advised he cannot burn a large pile of debris located on the property.

Code Enforcement will also move forward on the demolition of what's known locally as the old Hicks house, located on Second Street, just north of the old Coggin and Dearmont yard. The city is currently pursuing a court order to abate a public nuisance which will allow the city to move forward with demolishing the vacant and condemned property after more than two years of attempting to have the site brought into compliance with local code enforcement ordinances.

Council members are expected to approve a special event application from Northwest Florida Community Hospital. The hospital is requesting the city's permission to host its annual annual Relay for Life fundraiser, the 5K Glow Run. The run is set to take place at NFCH 6 p.m. on March 4.

The City of Chipley will meet again in regular session at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 14 and will be closed Monday, Feb. 20, in observance of Presidents' Day.