Published Thursday, January 31, 2013
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
Grantville City Council unanimously agreed Monday to create a splash park committee, revisiting a proposal that – while wildly popular with the town's citizens – was set aside last year when council members could not agree on location or funding for the project.
A master plan submitted by the city's Recreation Advisory Board includes the splash park, but board members recommended several improvements – drinking fountains and restroom access at Grantville parks, for instance – be given higher priority. Council has said the city can undertake several projects simultaneously.
"They're all doable," Mayor Jim Sells said. "The construction areas would only be construction areas for a very brief period of time."
Greg Perkins of Aqua Play Solutions, who has spoken before the council on several occasions, asked about progress on the splash park during Monday evening's council meeting.
"The good thing is we've got it on the master plan," Councilman Johnny Cooks responded. "The bad news is, we don't know where the funds will come from."
However, "It's pretty obvious we've got to do this early or it's not going to be ready on time," Cooks added.
Perkins fielded several more questions from council members, telling them three months would be "a comfortable time" to complete the park, if his company were chosen for the project.
Sells suggested that City Manager Johnny Williams meet with interested people from the community for ideas, and Cooks said the committee should be headed by Williams with representatives from public works and recreation and possibly the city engineer.
"The group should have organized meetings," Cooks said. "If we're more serious about it, we will have better results."
"Let's do it, then," Sells said. "Let's don't sit around and wait until it's too late again."
Council member Selma Coty made a formal motion to put together a committee to "address all issues," seconded by Rochelle Jabaley and unanimously approved by council.
In other business, Grantville Ciy Council:
• Allowed Coty's motion to have the city reimburse council member Barham Lundy for legal fees to die for lack of a second.
Lundy's request for reimbursement stemmed from an October incident in which a Grantville police officer came in to end a verbal altercation between the councilman and Mayor Sells during an administrative committee meeting.
Lundy submitted a copy of an invoice from Kam, Ebersbach & Lewis, P.C., which billed the councilman $500 for legal representation for a warrant hearing. Lundy indicated in his agenda request that he believes the bill he incurred was related to his duties as a city council member.
• Unanimously agreed in executive session to extend Williams' contract for one year at his current salary.
• Elected Coty mayor pro-tem.
• Approved a beer and wine license application for Zoopers, a downtown grocery story owned by Jabaley, who recused herself from the vote.
• Held a first reading on an Occupational Tax ordinance which would change assessments based on number of employees to assessment based on gross receipts.
• Requested acting Downtown Development Authority president Rebecca Campbell call a meeting to determine which DDA member must step down. Council is asking for a recommendation at its next meeting.
State law allows for seven members, and with the council's Monday reappointment of Campbell and Mark McKee, eight members are serving. Scott Worthy, a Hogansville resident who owns a downtown Grantville restaurant, and Amanda Hart were appointed at council's last meeting but Robert Allen's membership was called into question because his residence is outside the DDA area.
"I've known Robert and his family for years and consider him a part of Grantville, but we just didn't think about the fact that he didn't live within the city limits," Coty said. "He was told he could continue to serve if he wanted to, but we have a legal opinion here that says that that's not the case."
Allen said he is in the process of opening a downtown business, which would qualify him to legally serve, but the problem of an eighth DDA member would remain.
City Attorney Mark Mitchell recommended the motion be worded to have DDA recommend a member for council remove from the DDA, because council members have the authority to appoint and remove DDA members.
"You're creating a process by which the mistake of appointing one too many members – in violation of state code – by asking the DDA to make a recommendation for resignation or removal by council," Mitchell said.
• Appointed Connie Endicott to the Historic Preservation Commission to fill the unexpired term of John Meehan.
Council reappointed Linda Dean to the HPC as well, but delayed the reappointment of Eddie Luttrell after Jabaley objected to Luttrell serving on the commission at the same time as his wife, Sandra.
"I do not think it's ethical to have two people from the same household on the commission," Jabaley said.
• Directed Williams to contact Meriwether County Commissioner Emmett Clark following a request by Wayne Rosser, who has appeared before council on several occasions regarding residents of Meriwether Street.
Some homes are served by City of Grantville utilities and others by Meriwether County, and Rosser is requesting new water lines and fire hydrants be installed for families on the county line.