by Lisa Ellison
The Thursday, Jan. 16 city council meeting started out looking a lot like the Jan. 13 meeting: Forced, cheerful, buddy-buddy, punch-on-the-shoulder kinds of interactions from the mayor to councilors with a string of unanimous votes.
After breezing through appointments to citizen boards and commissions (one of note was District 3 representative Marion Blackburn’s appointment of former mayor Pat Dunn to the Redevelopment Commission) and elections and appointments of councilors to committees (see list below), council unanimously approved the items up for public hearing, including closing an alley on East Fifth Street and its related item, an amendment to the ordinance limiting public alleys in the central business district to pedestrians and service vehicles to expand the eastern boundary to Reade Street. (Click here to see more about these agenda items.)
Elected by council
Taxicab Appeal Board: Kandie Smith (D1)
Joint Pay and Benefits Committee: Rick Smiley (D4), Rose Glover (D2)
Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Trust: Calvin Mercer (at large)
Appointed by Mayor
Audit Committee: Smiley, Glover, Mayor Allen Thomas
City Council Economic Development Commissions: Richard Croskery (D5), Smith, Thomas
Council’s run of unanimous, discussion-free votes didn’t last. When things rolled around to the Town Common forum, an item requested by Blackburn “to get a briefing” on what’s next on the Town Common master plan, all councilors had something to say.
The briefing Blackburn hoped to see was a presentation already given to the Recreation and Parks Commission on January 8 (clip and link below). The request for that presentation was received too late (9 o’clock the night before the meeting) to have it ready for the council meeting, according to City Manager Barbara Lipscomb.
“Since they’re the ones who are supposed to be bringing us information and meeting with the stakeholders in Uptown Greenville,” Smith (D1) moved that council discuss the Town Common again after the Redevelopment Commission’s annual meeting to determine what projects the commission will pursue over the next year and to evaluate the body’s progress toward longer-term goals.
Blackburn said she would not support that motion. “Let’s go ahead and get our briefing, let’s go ahead and let it be broadcast.”
Smith’s motion to block the briefing until March passed in a 4-3 vote (Smith, Croskery, Glover for; Smiley, Blackburn, Mercer against), with the mayor breaking the tie.
See the presentation below or beginning at 44:00. (Please note that you must have Microsoft Silverlight installed to watch this video.)
In the public comment period, citizens let council know about the work of ReLeaf, a community-based nonprofit which has planted more than a thousand trees throughout the city. Others encouraged council to be mindful of citizen responses to the 2009 Town Common survey; spoke in favor of preserving green space at the Town Common, and proposed a policy of land-value taxation.
Coming up next is city council’s planning session–Jan. 24 and 25. See the full agenda here.
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