The dual-vehicle charging station is located in front of the Eau Gallie Library, at 1521 Pineapple Avenue.
The location reflects the likelihood that motorists with electric vehicles will find it convenient due to the many activities and services in the area. The location also allowed a reasonable cost of installation, and the $15,000 that the city directed to the project was an FPL rebate from a previous energy project.
Julie Foster, the city’s Sustainability Program Manager, expects more charging stations will appear in the near future. Already, public charging stations are offered in the Melbourne area by a retail store and a hotel.
“The goal is to provide a resource to encourage the use of alternative-fuel vehicles,” Foster said. “People will feel more comfortable buying these types of vehicles if they know there is a place to charge-up away from home.”
Batteries that power electric and hybrid vehicles are usually charged at owners’ homes and businesses. However, depending on the type of vehicle, the range of travel before recharging is generally limited to less than 100 miles.
Foster explained that local drivers typically use the public stations to ‘top off’ the charge in their batteries when convenient, leaving the vehicles plugged in as they attend to other matters in the area. Motorists who arrive from a distance may require a full charge.
Use of the Melbourne station requires a $1 access fee, regardless of the amount of energy used. The system is maintained by ChargePoint, a company with the nation’s largest plug-in charging network. An online map points drivers to available stations.
Foster said the growing use of vehicles with electric power helps address problems associated with traditional fuels. “There is not a single, silver bullet solution to our energy problems,” Foster said. “We need to have an overall balance to achieve energy sustainability.”
For motorists, the emergence of vehicles that avoid or minimize the use of gasoline can greatly reduce costs of operation. Vehicle purchase costs are now competitive with prices of many traditional vehicles. The federal Department of Energy expects well over a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.
Some of the staff members who work in the Melbourne Police Department Communications Center appeared before the city council earlier this week to receive a proclamation for the observance.
Police Commander Vince Pryce, who is responsible for operations of the center, said the observance allows the city to recognize and thank public safety men and women who receive emergency calls and dispatch emergency professionals and equipment during times of crisis. He explained that Melbourne’s communications center employees receive emergency calls directly from the community and then dispatch both police and fire departments.
Pryce said emergency responses require extensive training and teamwork. “The week-long event recognizes 9-1-1 call-takers, dispatchers, technicians that maintain radio and emergency phone systems, communications staff trainers, communications center personnel, and other public safety telecommunications staff across the country,” Pryce said. “These are people who work tirelessly, often behind the scenes, to help during emergencies.”
National Public Safety Telecommunications Week originated as a local observance in California in 1981. An annual observance across the nation gained final Congressional approval in 1994.
Savings of more than $2.5-million has been achieved through the refinancing of long-term bonds that funded municipal improvement projects, a reflection of the financial health of the utility system that provides water and sewer services.
Ongoing work to improve utility system finances is reflected in highly favorable bond ratings from Moody’s and Fitch, the two national services that measure financial well-being, said Michele Ennis, the city’s director of finance.
The city recently borrowed $12-million at an interest rate of 3.3%, allowing the multi-million-dollar savings through refinancing of 30-year bonds which had been issued in 2002 at interest rates of 4% and 5%. The new bond issue also provided about $5-million of new financing that is to be used on utility system improvement projects.
Further, the refinancing allowed the city to reclaim some of the added reserve deposits that it was forced to put in escrow during the financial market turmoil and the downgrading of the city’s bond insurer at that time.
“We have a strong, stable financial position in the utility system, and that allowed us to take advantage of the low interest rates,” Ennis said.
The utility system, which provides drinking water to a regional area, is funded by customer payments and is financially self-sufficient. Water and sewer rates are set by the City Council after receiving recommendations from consultants who calculate the revenue needed to maintain and operate the system. Utility rates are not being increased in the current fiscal year.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The official statement that provides details of the bond issue is available online at www.munios.com/id.aspx?g=C7RISK1AJ147K
The eastern section of New Haven Avenue has become a one-way street, it has been announced by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The change and other traffic adjustments announced by the state agency are required as part of a major roadway project that includes reconstruction of New Haven Avenue between U.S. 1 and the Melbourne Causeway.
As of Oct. 8, 2012, only eastbound traffic is allowed on the section of New Haven Avenue between U.S. 1 and the Melbourne Causeway. FDOT said the change will continue into August of 2013.
FDOT is undertaking $6.2-million in improvements to Highway U.S. 1 for most of its length through Melbourne. In addition to the reconstruction of New Haven Avenue, the project also includes resurfacing of U.S. 1 from Law Street southward toward the Crane Creek Bridge and terminating at Roosevelt Avenue, a distance of approximately five miles.
Other improvements include ADA-compliant curb ramps along the entire corridor, a southbound U.S. 1 turn lane at Babcock Street, a traffic signal mast arm conversion at Line Street, installation of drainage structures, and other associated signage and striping upgrades. The work is expected to be completed by the fall of 2013. Project information is available online from FDOT at www.cflroads.com.
Citizens and groups that would like to complete beautification projects to improve the appearance of public spaces, medians, and rights-of-way in Melbourne are to be eligible to seek grants to support their projects. Grant applications are currently being accepted.
Steven Graham, the City’s Parks Administrator, explained that the program developed by the Beautification & Environmental Advisory Committee is to provide grants of $500 to $2,500 for landscaping improvements, with the project applicant providing a match of 50%.
“This is the advent of the community-based beautification grant program,” Graham said. “The City has set aside seed funds to match the efforts of residents and community organizations to landscape and beautify our public spaces throughout the Melbourne community.”
Those interested in seeking a grant must complete an application form that is available online at melbourneflorida.org/leisure/parks.htm, and must agree to maintain the landscaped area for a year. Grants are to be provided as reimbursements after work is complete, with up to $12,000 in projects to be funded in coming months.
Applications are to be evaluated by the Beautification & Environmental Advisory Committee. The evaluations are to be based on the “Florida Friendly Landscape Principles” developed by the University of Florida’s Cooperative Extension Service. The principles offer recommendations based on factors that include plant selection, landscape design, soil preparation, low-volume irrigation, and maintenance practices.
Applications are to be submitted to the City of Melbourne Parks Division, 2895 Harper Road, Melbourne, FL 32904, or sent via e-mail to Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org. Interested parties can also request additional information via e-mail, or by calling 321-953-6230.