Unannounced $524,000 City Hall security package heralds Council’s return to former chambers.
Rejection of resident participation on redevelopment review board slams public demand for representation.
The Clarksville City Council returned to its Council Chambers, delivering two thunderous slaps to the public’s collective face in a single meeting.
Before delivering the back-to-back punches, and with the smell of fresh paint still lingering in the air, city departments, staff and council members were praised for their response to the recent tornado touchdowns in our community. Mayor Pro Temp Barbara Johnson gave city certificates to Council Members Deanna McLaughlin, Geno Grubs and Bill Summers for their personal efforts in aiding with the clean-up.
City Hall security package felt to be urgent! Security concerns came unannounced to Council agenda
Moving to the meeting’s agenda. the council approved a budget amendment of $620,000 for city hall security upgrades. The upgrades would institute rigid controlled access to city hall, cameras in elevators, restricted access to stairways (for exit only) for the public and limited access to city departments. The printed agenda only listed an additional $96,000 for unanticipated maintenance to Public Square properties. The mayor insisted that this action should not be put off until the new fiscal year budget cycle, even though admittedly it will be at least 14 to 16 weeks before actual implementation could begin.
Mayor declares, “No property or development interest in redevelopment area!”
Mayor Piper made a strenuous declaration that he has no property in the redevelopment area. He acknowledged owning a business office property in the area, which is up for sale. He stated he owned no development property in the area, had no stake or interest in any developments in the redevelopment area, in any way, and that stories to contrary were false.
Appointed Review Board to replace residents election of representatives
The Council also approved on second reading the much debated redevelopment ordinance. Discussion was again heated, intense and filled in petty vitriol by some. Bill Summers, Ward 10, offered amendments to clarify resident membership and business owner participation on the review board. Bill Forrester, Ward 11, offered an amendment to eliminate resident participation by election on the review board altogether. Deanna McLaughlin, Ward 2, noted that resident elected participation was included at the behest of “adamant public demand.” Ward 5 Diane Ward questioned the resident election component of the ordinance. The Co-City Attorney clarified that the resident elected participation format was untested in any court review while an appointed board format had been tested and passed court review.
A motion to postpone the vote on the matter was rejected . Only Ward 6 representative Marc Harris and Ward 12 representative Wayne Harrison voted ‘NO’ on the ordinance passage. Jim Doyle and Richard Swift were absent.
Clarksville NAACP President Jimmie Garland, who earlier this week announced he asked requested a review of the new development ordinance by HUD and the Justice Department, said:
“The properties of the affected areas are now in dire jeopardy. Conditions created last evening by eight council members who believe their obligation to the elitist is more of a priority than that of looking out for the residents of wards that do not affect them. We should thank Councilmen, Harris, Harrison, and Doyle in his absence for their compassion for the citizens of Clarksville versus loyalty to the status quo. I wish each of them much success in their future endeavors. By no means…. is this over. Keep the faith!!!”