February 19, 2014 10:22:45 AM
Whirllie Byrd and Nadia Dale will remain on the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors for three more years.
Columbus councilmen reappointed the two incumbents Tuesday. The vote to reappoint Dale was unanimous, while Byrd was reappointed by a 4-2 vote.
When Mayor Robert Smith opened the floor for a nomination, multiple councilmen attempted at the same time to be the first to make a motion before Smith silenced them and reminded them to speak one at a time. Smith said Councilman Kabir Karriem was the first voice he heard. Karriem nominated long-time board member Byrd. Marty Turner seconded before Gene Taylor and Joseph Mickens sided with them. Councilmen Charlie Box and Bill Gavin opposed.
Gavin then moved to appoint Fred Kinder. Box seconded, but the motion failed with only those two in support. Turner then nominated Dale, whose reappointment passed without opposition.
The entire process took less than two minutes with no additional discussion.
Councilmen also named Greg Lewis to the Columbus Municipal School District Board of Trustees. Vacancies on the city's tree board and zoning board of adjustments and appeals have not been filled. There are no applicants to replace Pat Wheeler, whose term on the tree board expired in December, nor Mike Burks, whose term on the zoning board ended Feb. 1. Terms for each of those vacant board positions are three years.
Councilmen approved a motion to use grant money awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to purchase less than an acre of property that used to house R&N Furniture and demolish the building.
Business owner Bill Nelson applied through the city for FEMA funding and agreed to convey the property on 300 and 302 Tuscaloosa Road to the city when it was awarded. After using that funding to purchase the less-than-1-acre property at its appraised value with a 25-percent match from Nelson, the city will clear it and be required to raise it above flood level and maintain it as green space in accordance with FEMA. Options include a park, nature reserve, space for grazing or camping, wetlands management or a buffer zone. The city would not be allowed to construct a building unless it is open on all sides, a structure compatible with open space or a public restroom.
The property's appraised value is not currently known.
Nelson told The Dispatch in 2011 that his store had flooded five times over the last three decades, including twice in 2009. City Planner Christina Berry said this will provide relief not only for Nelson but nearby property owners and residents.
"Applicants who applied for the grant have a lot of repetitive flooding on their property and that's a loss of value to their business," Berry said Tuesday.
The council also accepted Hickory Ridge Road, formerly a private road, as a public road.
The road is in Ward 6, which Gavin represents. He said property owners along the road wished for the city to accept the road and had arranged an agreement where they would pay $5,000, the city would pay the same amount and the county would provide in-kind services and construction work. The estimated cost to pave the road is $10,000-$12,000.
Turner objects approval of Packet legals bid
In other business, the board awarded The Packet, a local weekly publication, the contract to publish city legal notices at 2.5 cents per word on the first run and 2.4 cents per word on subsequent runs. The Dispatch was the other bidder at 3.2 cents per word on the first run and 2.95 cents per word on proceeding runs.
At the recommendation of Human Resources Director Pat Mitchell, Karriem made the motion to award the bid to The Packet because it was the lowest. Turner then made a substitute motion to award it to The Dispatch. The weekly publication has been openly critical of Turner after The Dispatch reported he owed rent money to a former tenant for his furniture business and after both publications reported that he had failed to pay fines stemming from a DUI charge in 2010, which he has since paid.
"Why?" Smith asked. "(The Packet) has the lowest bid."
"You already know why," Turner responded.
"I think that's personal," Smith said.
Turner's substitute motion died without a second. Karriem's motion passed 5-1, with Turner opposed.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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