Homestead City Council accepted a $50,000 grant from the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources at Council’s COW meeting Tuesday November 10.
The grant is for the “Homestead History Experience” at the Cybrarium. The project must include educational signage, interactive displays, a virtual reality experience and a related web application.
City Manager Cate McCaffrey said an RFP would be issued to find a consultant to “research, design, fabricate and install” the exhibit.
Councilmember Steven Shelley said the Everglades National Park has great historical exhibits relating to the Park and Homestead but they’re not accessible to the public.
“The artifacts are in this climate controlled room and protected,” he said. “A virtual reality experience seems a great way to bring them to life. The public could go to the Cybrarium and see them without putting those artifacts at risk.”
Mayor Losner added that the project was an opportunity to tell Homestead’s story. “There are still a lot of living, credible resources still available to
confirm historical facts,” he said.
“This is our one really good shot at a comprehensive and accurate history put together in the most current medium available.”
Before unanimous approval to accept the terms of the state grant, City
Manager McCaffrey concurred with comments saying the exhibit should be very visible and publicly accessible.
Council also decided to purchase $445,609 worth of playground equipment from a company in Austin, Texas for use in Losner Park. Three grants funded this purchase: $215,609 from the Florida Development Recreation
Assistance Program, $200,000 from the Florida Land and Water Conservation Fund, and $30,000 form a National Recreation and Park Association grant from the Disney Company.
Mayor Losner and Councilmember Patricia Fairclough-Staggers wondered if the canopy shown in park renderings was included. The City Manager said shade structures would be added for the Park equipment. Staff answered Council questions that infant swings were included, that park landscaping was coming through another vendor, and that the special rubberized playground surface was “amazing!”
Councilmember Larry Roth was informed there were various warranties on the equipment for five years, ten years, and for the lifetime of some of the structure.
In April, Council approved a Homestead Energy Lend a Hand Program (HELP) to assist eligible families with their utility bills up to $200 per year per residence due to COVID. The M.U.J.E.R. organization administers the project and helped 81 residents to date.
Councilmember Jenifer Bailey was told residents’ City utility bills included an option to contribute to HELP plus the City moved some funds to allow the program to continue.
Council unanimously agreed to modify the plan to increase assistance temporarily to $500 per year per eligible residence.
An amendment was agreed to for the City’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) adding $527,823 in new COVID relief funds from HUD under the federal CARES Act. Council had accepted $484,742 in federal COVID relief funds in March.
Council also approved a Florida Department of Environment Protection grant of $125,000 plus matching funds to renovate the Mayor Roscoe Warren Park playground.
Finally, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement JAG grant of $7,518 paid for new lighting equipment for the police SWAT team.
Council also approved financing the purchase of a new utility bucket truck for Homestead Electric for $159,117 and two side loaders plus a front-end loader for garbage collection for $896,220. The vehicle purchases were budgeted through the City’s Capital Improvement Plan.