City Pool in controversy over committee members

The Fayette City Pool seems to generate controversy more than almost any other topic in the community. The latest controversy came to head at the Fayette City Council meeting, Tuesday, Nov. 21.
During the Nov. 7 regular council meeting, Alderman Greg Stidham shared with the council results of his meeting with Howard County Health and Wellness Council (HCHWC). This meeting was a result of HCHWC taking the initiative to survey the community about water recreation. (Something that had yet to be done by the city council or any of its sub-committees.) Discussion centered on the creation of an Ad Hoc committee tasked with researching options for the existing city pool and future water recreation. Based on this meeting, Alderman Stidham made a motion for the council to approve a seven-member Ad Hoc Committee to be tasked with researching water recreation options. The committee would consist of two members from HCHWC, two members from the Park Board, the City Manager, one member at large, and one member appointed by the mayor. The motion named the six recommended members; from HCHWC, Becky Galloway, John Pettit; from the Park Board, Regina Powell, Alderman Larry Dimond; City Manager Robin Triplett; and member at large, Leslie Sutton. The seventh member will be named by Mayor Kenny O’Brian. The motion received a second, and during discussion, the mayor expressed concern about cost of the project. After reassurance this committee was not tasked with spending money, but was simply to gather information and it would probably take 12-18 months to compile the necessary information, he was reassured. The motion passed.
Evidently some residents are not happy with the appointed Ad Hoc committee. Ann Schnell, vice chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, approached the council with several concerns about the Ad Hoc committee on behalf of the Commission. (Commission chair William ‘Benji’ Conrow was unable to attend.) Schnell’s questions included; Who are the chairs of the [Ad Hoc] committee? Who chose the members? Why was this not announced in the paper? Why wasn’t the Parks and Rec Commission asked for nominees, consulted, or able to decide who they wanted on the committee? Why was the Parks and Rec Commission not given the same opportunity as HCHWC to voice their opinion? Why is Bekki Galloway on the committee as a representative of HCHWC – she is also on the Parks and Rec Commission – isn’t that “double dipping?” Why was the public not invited to view/tour the pool when the council did? Why wasn’t there an announcement in the paper asking for volunteers for the committee?
Alderman Greg Stidham offered responses since he was the one of the council members who met with HCHWC and made the recommendation. Stidham explained that he and Alderman Larry Dimond had met with HCHWC representatives and reviewed the information gathered by HCHWC. Stidham noted that he thought Alderman Dimond, as Council Representative of the Parks and Rec Commission, had shared information with the rest of the Commission. Both Stidham and Schnell agreed that this ‘fell through the cracks’ due to personal issues with Dimond. Schnell wanted to know why another alderman didn’t inform the Commission and Stidham explained that they were not aware the information had not been shared. Schnell also stated that the Parks and Rec Commission had not had a meeting since September, and asked why the Commission was not included in the meeting with HCHWC. Alderman Stidham explained that he and Alderman Dimond had been appointed by the mayor to meet with HCHWC to review the survey results. At that time Mayor Kenneth O’Brian spoke up stating he did not recall appointing Stidham and Dimond to meet with HCHWC. Discussion of whether or not this had happened went on for a few minutes and became somewhat heated.
Mayor O’Brian stated he had received complaints about the Ad Hoc committee voted upon in the Nov. 7 meeting and he was vetoing that action. He proceeded to state that the committee needed to be reappointed, there were problems with the committee selection and how it was done. He repeated several times the committee was vetoed and needed to regroup that perhaps another meeting was needed for assigning the Ad Hoc committee. “We need as many involved as interested,” O’Brian stated. When Stidham commented “If you do that you could end up with a committee of 59 people or more,” the mayor responded if that was what it took, that was fine.
Joe Lauber, filling in for newly hired city attorney Sydney Mayfield, advised Mayor O’Brian that a veto was not appropriate in this instance. Instead he suggested a “Motion to Reconsider” from the council which would provide a ‘reset’ to the process. He also suggested making sure the Ad Hoc committee was made up of “people who are truly interested” in the process of collecting information. Alderman Stidham made a motion to reconsider the Ad Hoc committee and reset the process. The motion passed with a vote of 4 to 1. It was stated again that the Ad Hoc committee would only be collecting information and not making decisions. That will be left to the city council.
Pam Huttsell, who was also in the audience during the meeting, requested that the council consider reinstating the Historic Preservation Commission. She explained having a Historic Preservation Commission is necessary to apply for grants for Historic Preservation.
In reviewing the low bid for repair and coating the bowl of the swimming pool, it was noted that the bid of $57,000 did not include prevailing wage.
In other business, the council;
– declined to approve a sewer waiver for property at 204 1/2 West Morrison
– discussed a potential settlement for wind damage at the wastewater treatment plant
– discussed setting the city marshal salary for the April election
– approved the sale of the old boom mower to Cook’s in Chillicothe
– discussed changing the ‘Welcome to Fayette’ sign on Highway 240 versus re-painting
– received a grant from Fayette Area Community Trust for radios for the police department.
The Council also discussed the proposed CID (Community Improvement District) map and boundaries. It was recommended the spec building in the Industrial Park not be included in the CID. The council believes in another meeting or two they should have the CID boundaries decided.
The Fayette City Council hold their next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public and everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

1 Comment

  1. Ann Schnell on November 28, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Pam Huttsell did not make the comment about the Historical Preservation Commission is was me, Ann Schnell, that made the comment about the HPC and the grants.

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