First Posted: 12/19/2008
Over the objections of a local veteran, Mount Airy officials approved a lease agreement Thursday night aimed at providing public recreation facilities at a site on West Lebanon Street.
It had been reported that the deal was finalized to the satisfaction of both city government and the board that oversees Veterans Memorial Park, with Thursdays action expected to be a formality.
However, one veteran on the park board asked the commissioners during a public-comment portion of their meeting to delay the decision for now.
Were not against a playground, Tom Parman said of one of the facilities envisioned for a 1.5-acre site at Veterans Memorial Park which the city plans to lease for an initial 25-year period.
We just want an opportunity to share our views, the local veteran told city officials.
Parman explained that due to a miscommunication, he and four other members of the parks governing board did not attend a recent meeting in which the veterans approved their part of the lease agreement.
He said those who were not involved in the decision have other ideas that could be more beneficial than the playground, restrooms and other facilities that have been planned for the eastern end of the park near the Emily B. Taylor Greenway.
They want to make sure that any decisions made will reflect the best interests of the veterans and citizens both now and in the future, Parman said. He asked the Board of Commissioners to delay a decision on the lease so the veterans can get back together and kind of go over this a little bit.
One item that Parham questioned Thursday night is the citys plans to add facilities at a site he considers to be in close proximity to two other public recreation areas, Riverside Park and Westwood Park.
But Parman said his goal in addressing the board was not to derail what has been planned.
City officials, in unanimously approving the lease agreement, said they believed the vote was in order Thursday night.
I dont know why you are addressing this with our board, Mayor Jack Loftis told Parman, pointing out that the negotiations between the two sides had been ongoing for some time.
The mayor said he didnt want city government to go against the wishes of any local veterans, but that attorneys for each party had reviewed the lease and found its provisions agreeable.
Its up to you guys whether its legally appropriate to sign it, Loftis told Parman.
Commissioner Todd Harris also said he saw no reason to delay a vote on the agreement.
Meanwhile, Deborah Cochran, another board member, said she hoped that all the veterans can be satisfied with the move.
Rawley King, another veteran and park board member at Thursdays meeting, said that despite Parmans objections, were going to sign this thing (the lease) tomorrow anyway.
King explained that similar problems have occurred in the past when the park board couldnt reach major decisions due to insufficient numbers of members attending meetings to form a quorum.
This led the group to amend its bylaws in 2007 to allow majority rule to occur if enough members of the board were not in attendance. King argued that sufficient notice was given regarding recent meetings when the lease was discussed.
We didnt do no illegal voting out there, he said.
The pact approved Thursday night calls for the city government to lease the space at the park for $1 annually for the initial 25 years, which is renewable afterward.
Loftis have said that due to the municipalitys tight financial situation, grants or community fund-raising efforts will be needed in order for the facilities to be developed.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected], or at 719-1924.