2006-06-23 / Government / Neighborhood

Columbia City Council Meeting + June 21, 2006 + 9 am

By John Temple Ligon

Josalynn S. Smith accepts the Employee of the Month award from Mayor Bob Coble.
Josalynn S. Smith accepts the Employee of the Month award from Mayor Bob Coble. Roll call

City council convened for its work session Wednesday morning, June 21, at 9 am. Council members Sam Davis and Daniel Rickenmann were absent. Present were Tameika Isaac Devine, E. W. Cromartie, Mayor Bob Coble, and Anne Sinclair.

Allen University

Council agreed to allow Allen University to close Pine Street at Taylor Street on an as-needed basis as the city goes ahead with a traffic study. The university appealed to close Pine permanently, but so far there was no process to allow such. For now, council advised Allen not to install gates until the application and presumed approval process is complete.

Parks hours

Allison Baker , assistant city manager for public services, put July 12 on the city calendar ,as the day for a public hearing on city parks hours. For the most part, parks with no lights and no staff on site will close at sundown, and parks with, 9 pm.

Drew Wellness Center

Council approved eight representatives from organizations and another eight community candidates for the Charles R. Drew Wellness Center Scholarship/Advisory Committee. Cromartie noted the memberships at the center were up to 1,500, well ahead of expectations.

Homelessness

Council approved the appointments of Bob Hill , Caroline Brailsford , and Bud Tibshrany to serve on the Homelessness Commission.

Regular session

Council adjourned for a ten-minute break and resumed for its regular session at 10 am.

Favorite city employee

City Police Chief Dean Crisp introduced Josalynn S. Smith , his department's employment assistant/grants coordinator as the city's Employee of the Month. Smith received a framed commemorative certificate from Mayor Coble and an extra $150 from City Manager Austin.

City Center Partnership

Matt Kennell , director of the City Center Partnership, and an entourage of what appeared to be more than 30 supporters, was present as city council approved the re-establishment of the City Center Business Improvement District. Also in the audience were founder Pete Cannon and founding chairman Jim Leventis.

Cost of construction

An emergency sewer repair was found necessary for $393,730 in additional funds. The change order was for materials mostly, but council was concerned with the lack of adherence to the city's minority sub-contractor outreach program. The team involved in the additional charge was the same as the original contract. In other words, whatever minorities were on the job before would continue for the additional work. Since most construction sites are occupied by a majority of minorities, society on the whole and the construction industry in particular appear to be working fairly for all. But Cromartie and Coble were upset the additional $393,730 in emergency work did not specifically adhere to the city's minority sub-contractor outreach program, the same program that brought a 50% premium to a pipe project along Shop Road a few weeks ago. Finlay shared concerns the city minority sub-contractor minority outreach program was not well defined and not highly successful. Coble responded with fond recall of the good old days of racial quotas and explicit goals, thrown out by the federal courts. Then, Coble waxed, the city could account for its efforts. Steve Gantt, assistant city manager, offered to explain the situation while Finlay raised questions. In the end, Coble and Cromartie wanted a final declaration: emergency or no emergency. Emergencies can move ahead without too many concerns over the city's minority outreach sub-contractor program. And non-emergencies have to proceed with the search, the paperwork, the hassles, and the social experiments to attract city-approved and industry-qualified minority sub-contractors who have recently driven up costs more than 50% in similar pipe projects. Finlay suggested the city stick with its emergency status and get the job done within the least amount of time and money.

Signs

Spartanburg, Rock Hill, and Charleston prohibit such signs, but Columbia is going ahead with LED signs that can change every six seconds. Council tentatively approved the installation of a few of the signs with the fallback position of another appearance by the sign company (Lamar), come January 2007, to reconsider restrictions and neighborhood intrusions.

Primary concerns

Sheldon Chip Rice shared his concerns with the primary system at the polls. He couldn't vote for his favorite candidates because he would cross the party lines if he were allowed the choice.

Next meeting

Council meets again Wednesday morning, June 28, for a work session at 9 am. There is no regular session scheduled. The work session is planned for the third floor, City Hall, corner of Laurel and Main.

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