Yancey voted mayor pro tem, council approves personnel changes
By LYNETTE SOWELL
On Tuesday night, at the recommendation of Mayor Frank Seffrood, the Copperas Cove city council voted Dan Yancey as mayor pro tem for the year.
Personnel changes in the city’s Solid Waste Department were approved, but the decision was not unanimous.
The changes included reclassifying several positions in that department and amend both the current fiscal year’s position listing, along with the Personnel Improvement Plan for fiscal years 2018-2022. The positions include Superintendents of Commercial and Residential Waste, and Superintendent of Recycling.
Initially, councilman Jay Manning called to reject the changes, stating he did not understand why if the city was decreasing one position in that department, but it still increased the budget by $2,500. Ryan Haverlah, the city’s budget director, explained that the several positions in the department were being reclassified, which would involve some pay raises with those changes. Manning, along with councilmen Charlie Youngs and Marc Payne, voted in favor of rejecting the proposed changes. The measure then passed, with Manning, Youngs and Payne voting against it.
During the reports portion of the meeting, newly sworn in councilman Marc Payne clashed with both the city’s Parks & Recreation Director, Joe Brown, and the city’s building superintendent, Mike Morton.
When giving the updates to the city’s capital improvements projects, during discussion of the upcoming parks improvements, Payne took issue with some of the proposed parking lots for City Park. One of those proposed parking lots, along with curbed sidewalks and ramps, is to be installed where the Rabbit Fest carnival is usually set up in City Park. Payne asked if the city’s use of the main city park for tourism matched with the plan, and that what he was getting at is the growth of larger events and tourism growth.
Brown said he believed both went well together, especially where accessibility is concerned.
“If you go back to starting to plan this process two years ago one of the biggest problems with our parks was accessibility. If you’re not ambulatory or have any type of issue, good luck.” He added that there have been incident reports of people falling in the dirt parking lots, typically at events.
“I think it will bolster our tourism and event efforts. We will be able to give people a great place to park and access the event,” Brown said. “I think we will need to be creative, as we have some of the larger events, if we only have ‘x’ number of paved parking lots.”
Payne gave Rabbit Fest as an example of there being a problem with the proposed parking lots and was concerned about where something like a larger event, or carnival, could be set up.
“Down where the other parking lot is, that’s our flat area where the carnival goes, and the electricity was put in by the chamber to support the carnival, and all the booths go…Once you put that parking lot in there, the carnival kind of goes by the wayside. Once you put those parking areas, in you can’t just bring other cars in there to park on the dirt, because they’ll be parking on top of the access sidewalks. They’re going to be blocked by concrete curbs.
“It looks like we have it designed for smaller events and sports, but if we’re going to use it for large events, we’ve kind of ruled that out. So that’s what I’m saying. We may have to look at another area for large events that can be used by everybody.”
Brown responded that this has been in the planning process for about two years, with seven town hall meanings having been held.
“I don’t see the common sense in planning parking lots for a two-day event. I hear your concern, but I don’t see it as a concern,” Brown said. “If we want the park system to continue to grow and be a viable option for people to move and live and work here, then we need to update and create parks that are accessible, updated, and desirable. We have a lot of dirt space. We’re not going to pave all the dirt space.”
Payne also spoke out regarding the sidewalk project for The Narrows Business & Industrial Park, objecting to the installation of sidewalks that might be torn out when companies build in the park. The project is presently in the design phase, and part of the project includes paving Constitution Avenue all the way to the intersection of MLK Jr. Boulevard.
“Are we doing it because we have the money or are we doing it because it’s the smart thing to do?” Payne asked. “We don’t wan to put sidewalks in where there will be heavy equipment and dirt and stones, breaking up the sidewalks. Unless its’s a safety factor for children to get to school or we have a retirement home where there are scooters, we don’t need to be putting sidewalks into The Narrows.
“All I can say is if the council doesn’t want the sidewalks there, then we can turn the project back,” said Morton.
City manager Andrea Gardner agreed, reminding the council that the council had voted on this and directed staff to make the application for the grant funding.
“If there is a change in that will, then Mike’s right. We can write a letter to the MPO and let them know we don’t want to do the projects and turn the money back, and another community will gladly take that money.”
Payne responded saying he would rather another community use the money that needs it, than the city spend it on sidewalks, which would be then torn up only to be put back in again.
“It doesn’t make sense; it’s just not smart.”
Councilman Jay Manning expressed confusion that he wasn’t sure if it was a time to comment during the presentation, then following up by saying he’s had the same concern as Payne since day one.
“If you don’t have a reason to put a sidewalk in a location, it’s better to put it in as you build.”
The council did concur that the design of the Business 190 should be put on the retreat schedule on February 5 for further discussion and recommendations.
Also on Tuesday evening, the council approved Julie Norman to fill a vacancy on the Cemetery Advisory Board and accepted the mayor’s recommendations for council member nominations for various city boards and committees.
Two professional services agreements were approved, one of them with Lockwood, Andrews, and Newnam (LAN) Engineering for the design of the City Park sewer line Phase II improvements, which are already included in the city’s Capital Improvement Projects for fiscal year 2017. An agreement with Freese and Nichols, Inc. was also approved, for design of the Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant ultraviolet disinfection system upgrade.