CRESTVIEW — A new interchange along Interstate 10 could limit traffic and provide additional access to Crestview.
The City Council on Monday listened to early-stage planning on that project and brainstormed the issue of non-city residents and companies receiving city water and sewage utility services.
The Florida Department of Transportation is in the planning and research phase of a project that would create an additional I-10 interchange to the west of State Road 85. The department has created a series of possible projects and stated what their feasibility and potential impact would be.
Several of the plans call for conversion of the Antioch Road overpass to an interchange system, allowing for travel to and from I-10. Multiple interchange variations are being explored including a roundabout style, one featuring a single traffic light and others that would call for the lowering of I-10 several feet.
Beyond the interchange, a PJ Adams Parkway extension would run from Arena Road to State Road 90 at Old Bethel Road. This would alleviate traffic on State Road 85, provide relief for future city growth and provide an additional emergency route, according to Greg Moore of contract company VHB, which is working with the FDOT on the project.
The interchange project would also aim to provide better passage ability for pedestrians and cyclists over I-10. Currently, no sidewalk or bike paths exist on the overpass.
“We’d like to fix that problem for sure,” Moore said.
The survey and research teams have begun contacting “stakeholders” in the project, including residents and businesses in close proximity to the proposed construction sites. Many have been open to an interchange but teams had some pushback from residents on Arena Road, according to Moore.
The FDOT is only a few months into the 24-month research, analysis and approval schedule and, therefore, several details are limited or unknown. The department will introduce its preliminary findings and suggestions to the Okaloosa County Board of Commissioners next month. The department will also have three public meetings over the next year to discuss the project.
Monday’s meeting was a workshop and, therefore, no motions could be made by city council.
Crestview provides utility services for approximately 400 parcels of land outside city limits, according to Growth Management Director Teresa Gaillard. If these units were incorporated into the city, it would provide an additional $250,000 in tax revenue.
However, the process to annex property can be expensive to property owners, and only sites adjacent to city property can be annexed.
Chiefs from Crestview’s police and fire departments expressed an urgent need to resolve the issue of city and county lines, not only for the sake of utility taxes. Fractured boundaries create a logistical nightmare in handling emergencies, they said.
The fire department will assist non-city property but receives no tax revenue from those locations, according to Fire Chief Joseph Traylor. The Crestview Police Department faces even larger issues when concerned with jurisdiction over crimes. An improper interpretation of an incident occurring within the city or county line can result in a lawsuit or other legal case being thrown out, according to CPD Chief Tony Taylor.
Heavy discussions were had on how to adjust the city’s annexation procedure and how to lure those that receive city services into city limits. However, they lack legal background and foundation.
Councilmen J.B. Whitten and Shannon Hayes expressed that legal counsel must be had before any further discussions can be held on the matter.
“Right now, we’re just shooting in the dark,” Whitten said.
The council, as well as City Attorney Ben Holley, recommended Gaillard receive legal advising and present her findings at the next City Council meeting; she agreed, and will contact a lawyer with experience in this field.
The issue of out-of-city utilities and city annexation has been discussed countless times over the past several years but the City Council, along with city departments, have taken a closer look at the matter to improve it.