Vote on moving city meetings to Community Center clarified


Alderman Bob Thomas moved at the Nov. 27 city council meeting to reconsider the vote on moving city meetings to the Community Center. At the Nov. 13 meeting, Thomas had voted Yes to approve the move, but Monday evening he told council he had been confused and voted opposite of what he wanted.

Alderman Terry McClung explained the intent of his motion at the Nov. 13 meeting was for council to move forward with the proposal from the Community Center Foundation and later work out details, to which alderman David Mitchell stated his concerns should not be construed as anything negative about the Foundation. His problem was how the discussion of moving city government meetings was being presented. He was seeing a mishmash of issues involving the school board, the Attorney General’s opinion, Norris Street and the Community Center, and it seemed predetermined council would be moving city meetings to the Community Center.

Alderman Kristi Kendrick also said she was bothered by how the question of whether the school district would give the Community Center property to the city had even entered the discussion of a lease for a meeting space. She was seeing two different subjects.

Mayor Butch Berry brought the discussion back to Thomas’s motion to reconsider the vote, and that vote was 3-2, McClung and Schneider voting No. Berry said he was in favor of the vote at the previous meeting which was to pursue negotiations with the Community Center Foundation, so he was not going to vote on Thomas’s motion, and therefore it failed. Berry will report back to council on progress with the Foundation.

Norris Street property up for lease

Regarding the disposition of the city-owned property at 25 Norris currently occupied by Dr. Charles Beard, City Attorney Tim Weaver reiterated that council has authority over city-owned property unless it delegates that authority to another entity. He said there is no record of anyone notifying council that rent payments on 25 Norris should have stopped, so what to do next with the property is in council’s hands. The property has been a contender for city meetings.

Mitchell reminded council all they have is a lease which ended in 1994, yet the tenant continued to use the property without paying anything. He asked if council should not consider asking for back payment. “All these years of paying nothing is wrong and unethical,” he maintained.

Kendrick added they have heard of other parties interested in the property, so why is the city not considering those offers? She said Beard has not been forthcoming, so she deemed him an undesirable lessee. McClung agreed that since Beard has not been willing to cooperate they should consider other offers.

Mitchell moved to authorize the mayor with the city attorney’s advice to entertain proposals to lease 25 Norris. Weaver added the city, as owner, was the only entity that could entertain offers for the lease. Vote was unanimous to approve the motion.