Parks giveaway issue on fast-track for tomorrow's Town Council meeting
I haven't been using this blog lately because, as many of many know I have been using a Facebook group, League of Signal Mountain Voters to contact citizens about various issues and "goings on" in the area. If you are on Facebook, I would encourage you to join this group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/110672268965327/.
However, knowing that many folks are not on Facebook, I am returning to my blog to contact you about an important issue. As previously discussed on this blog: http://paulmhendricks.blogspot.com/2013/04/small-town-politics-and-political.html, the Town Council has been looking at donating rights to all of our town parks to an outside land trust to prevent a future "rogue council" or, presumably future rogue citizens, from making any changes. As I've previously made clear, this is not an issue of "Save Our Parks" since they are under no threat. Many of the parks in this proposal were donated to the town because they are deep gullys or vertical bluff land and essentially un-developable anyway. Many of them already have conservation easements on them. However, the point is that there is a principle of whether the citizens of Signal Mountain are responsible enough to take care of their own parks. I happen to think we are capable, the current Council majority thinks that we aren't. As Vice-Mayor Susan Robertson stated recently when ask "Don't you trust future councils", she said "No, I don't".
This issue has sudden been put on the fast-track. A draft proposal is on the town website: http://signalmountaintn.gov/, the issue apparently went before the Planning Commission last week, was put on the Council "agenda" meeting for "discussion" last Friday and is on the Council meeting agenda for tomorrow, Monday, Sept. 8 at 6:30. A resolution will be presented to allow the Mayor to sign this agreement. Since it is being done as a resolution instead of an ordinance, it only requires the one vote and will apparently be a done deal if the majority decides that it. Councilmember Dick Gee is out of town on a long planned trip and so Councilmember Bill Wallace will be the only councilmember there to speak in opposition. With an upcoming election, several of the candidates (including Dick Gee, Chris Howley and Bob Spalding) have all expressed serious reservations about the process by which this is being conducted.
A committee was put together to research this issue. I had thought this was an official town committee, but apparently this is not the case. I have no idea of the official status of this committee, but it has been collecting money in the town's name for this project and apparently negotiating with the Land Trust in the town's name (hence the draft agreement). Town Attorney Phil Noblett has also been in discussions with the trust's attorney to protect the town's interest, but was unaware that there was any such committee also involved. Frankly, this all sounds very irregular, especially for such a significant decision as giving away rights to our parklands to an outside entity forever.
I urge concerned citizens to contact councilmembers about their concerns and if possible to attend the council meeting tomorrow night (Monday, Sept. 8 at 6:30pm at the Signal Mountain Town Hall). Council email addresses are:
Mayor Bill Lusk - firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice-Mayor Susan Robertson - email@example.com
Annette Allen - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Wallace - email@example.com
Dick Gee - firstname.lastname@example.org