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COLUMN

Council Watch

Billy Manes paying attention to local government so you don't have to

Translation:In dirtier downtown news of yore, the city has been trying to get its environmental head around the potential impacts of willy-nilly gas production on West Robinson Street since 2004. Orlando has pinned the potential of rehabilitative responsibility on a number of companies that operated in the area throughout the 20th century, namely Florida Power Corp., Atlanta Gas Light Co., People's Gas System, Continental Holdings and some guy named Blaine Pierce. Continental has recently started making noise that it doesn't belong in that coalition of polluters because it says its hands are clean of whatever muck-making the Houston Corp. (doing business as Florida Gas Co.) did in the 1950s, despite their apparent affiliation. The other named companies disagree, as does the city, so now they're all going to take Continental to court to rub the noxious fumes back in the company's face. The city has signed on to cover 3 percent of the cost of litigation, or approximately $15,000.

Item: The city approves a not-for-profit fee assistance program agreement between Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida Inc. and the city of Orlando.

Translation: Perhaps it's a sign of the times that the region's largest anti-hunger organization is looking to build a new $16 million dollar headquarters to replace the one it already has in city limits. In its last fiscal year, Second Harvest distributed an alarming 33.9 million pounds of food for the needy, and seeing as that number's not about to magically decrease, they'll be moving to a 100,000-square-foot warehouse erected on Old Winter Garden Road. The city aims to assist the move by taking care of half of the transportation and sewage impact fees, which means Second Harvest will save about $50,000 on the move.

Item:The city approves the fifth amendment to its community educational facility funding, construction, lease and operation and maintenance agreement at the Orlando Science Center.

Translation:In case you didn't know, the Orlando Science Center – which has been many things to many different species during the 52 years of its operation on city land – is also a daycare center presently allowed, via a three-party agreement with the school board, to host more than 40 kids. In 2008, the kids were allowed to wander outside into a small play area; now, that play area is being expanded by an additional 2,251 square feet. Here's hoping the land isn't full of 60-year-old gas rot, even if that would make an awesome science fair project.

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