Orange City Council Tuesday approved a new dump truck for the Public Works Department, to replace a predecessor damaged in a rescue operation during Hurricane Ike.

Council members also approved an indemnity agreement with the Stark Foundation and the demolition of houses in Navy Park to provide new homes in the neighborhood.

The truck will be bought for $54,594 from an Orange dealer. The damaged truck was ruined by flooding after successfully transporting personnel to rescue Ike victims stranded on the roof of a house. 

City Manager Shawn Oubre said the incident should not be considered an improper use of city equipment, adding that the outcome helped save “seven or eight people that might not be with us any longer.”

Mayor Brown Claybar agreed, saying the truck was “the tool that was available at the time.” 

Councilman Jeff Holland added, “There is certainly a time and a place to ignore jurisdictional lines.”

The agreement with the Stark Foundation was an injury disclaimer with the Orange tourist bureau regarding annual/seasonal events in Stark Park. 

It absolves the foundation of responsibility regarding injuries or deaths and subsequent resulting lawsuits against the foundation or its directors. The city will be held responsible, Oubre said.

Council also gave the nod to demolish four houses in Navy Park to make way for 11 new homes  and the renovation of about 25 of the Kingston Apartments, primarily in the areas of Dewey, Decatur and Farragut streets. County commissioners also gave approval at their meeting Monday.

Developer Ike Akbari has ongoing projects in the neighborhood designed for residents with median incomes. Akbari told council he is building with safety codes in mind, to include sprinkler systems and fire alarms.

“I really support this issue,” Claybar said. “That area has a lot of eyesores. The investments have already been made and this is another step to turn the area around and get more homes on the tax rolls.”