Columbia City Council Meeting + September 13, 2006 + 10 am
By John Temple LigonTemple@TheColumbiaStar.com
City council convened for presentations around 10 am Wednesday, September 13. All council members were present: Daniel Rickenmann, Sam Davis, E. W. Cromartie, Mayor Bob Coble, Anne Sinclair, Tameika Isaac Devine, and Kirkman Finlay.
Dr. Janet Mason, Coralee Harris, and Teresa McWilliams appealed for funds to help with debts at the Columbia City Ballet. Production costs for Off the Wall came to $1.2 million, and over $300,000 in payables from that show still linger. In the meantime, salaries are running about $34,000 a week, and the ballet needs some emergency relief for a few weeks of salaries. Ticket receipts should pick up dramatically come October and Frankenstein . Council was more attuned to the present salary subsidy than the past production expenses, and city staff was directed to locate the money.
Libby Gober , city ombudsman, reviewed processes and guidelines for hospitality tax, which are similar with the accommodations tax. Eligible expenditures are advertising/promotions/marketing, municipal services, entertainment/speakers/guest artist/instructors, transportation, facilities, staff salaries, and restroom facilities.
Developer and builder Joab Dick was present to see his two-unit residential project at 912 South Edisto Drive gain approval. Each unit will be an 1,800 sq. ft. loft apartment. As Finlay put it, "It's a good thing."
The proposed construction of a new track and accessory facilities near Memorial Stadium for Dreher High School brought out the most controversy. The city's Marc Mylott described the project as approved by staff. Wayne Smalley , member of District One School Board, begged council to proceed as quickly as practical. Dreher has no track. Mike Bobby , chief operating officer for Richland 1, gave an overall review of the project. Raymond Perkins , director of facilities for District One, reminded council the facilities had to have a home near Memorial Stadium. Dreher had no room.
Engineer Tom Britt discussed the civil engineering involved, assuring council the neighborhood suffered no additional flooding. Keith Costello wondered why Dreher couldn't keep the track inside Memorial Stadium. Officials explained the dimensions for stadium soccer took precedence. The Sierra Club's Pamela Greenlove shared her concerns over the neighborhood's eco-system, the site's soil stabilization, the variety of birds, some unusual species on the site, and in general protecting the earth. Gordon Baker , a professional forester and a member of Dreher's sports booster group, said the site failed to meet any of the generally accepted three definitions for wetlands. Jeanne Stiglbauer , principal at Dreher, asked the council for help in providing adequate athletic facilities for her 1230 kids in an urban setting. Mel Jenkins recommended council not vote that day but reconsider the project's implications. Coach Daniel Brooks stood proud of Dreher's recent three state championships in track under his command, but he warned council Dreher couldn't prepare to compete without adequate facilities. Sinclair echoed Jenkins and suggested no vote be taken. Finlay asked for the three cost numbers of the three alternatives for a track, all at the same site near Memorial Stadium. Council agreed.
Campus facilities assistance
Council decided to look into possibilities of financial assistance for athletic ball fields installation at Columbia College and a gymnasium restoration at Allen University. The public at-large would have access and use, but the maintenance expense would be carried by the two schools.
Council meets on Wednesday, September 20, at 10 am in City Hall, corner of Laurel and Main.