1 of 2
Community Bond Meeting
Jeremy Love speaks about Rosedale's needs at a public meeting on the city's $110 million bond.
2 of 2
Community Bond Meeting
A Jan. 30 public meeting on the city's $110 million bond.
The second public comment meeting on the city's $110 million bond - to be used for school, parks and public safety projects - centered on requests from Rosedale residents and citizen concern that the city's process lacks transparency.
Since the first public meeting in December, the city has assembled a 12-person task force of council, school board, police and parks employees. The task force put together a request for proposals for a project manager to direct the use of the bond, with proposals due Feb. 13. The project manager would advise the council on the best way to allocate the money from the bond, provide information on demographics and oversee the project moving forward.
Council President Bruce Limbaugh said the allocation decisions could be made by April.
Rosedale resident Jeremy Love presented a petition to the council to use a portion of the bond funds for improvements in his community, including: affordable and senior housing; nuisance property abatement; improvements at Lee Community Center and Spring Park; a Rosedale shopping village with local businesses; public infrastructure maintenance such as signs, crosswalks and sidewalks; historic preservation and recognition; and a comprehensive development plan for the area.
“I feel like in 2017, there needs to be another plan developed for specifically Rosedale," Love said. “What are you going to do to help support the revitalization of Rosedale?”
The council was receptive to these things and Ward 1 Representative Britt Thames said work could begin soon on some elements of Love's petition, including nuisance abatement, signage and a committee of Rosedale residents to interface between the community and the council with strategies for improvements.
“The abatement process that Britt and I started was a direct result of the things we heard while campaigning,” Ward 1 Representative Andy Gwaltney said.
A streetscape improvement project is already funded for 18th Street and Limbaugh said the city is also working on a citywide traffic study. Love said he would like the city to consider out of the box options like co-ops and community land development to help the area.
“I just want to see something that says Rosedale’s name on it … so I can feel like I’m involved in the process of growth in the city,” Love said. “If we don’t help the people be able to afford the improvements, they won’t be here for the improvements.”
The council encouraged Love to bring as many Rosedale residents as possible to the community meeting planned with council members on Feb. 21, 6:30 p.m. at Lee Community Center.
Several residents at Monday's meeting objected to the fact that the task force's meetings are not subject to the state's open meetings act because it does not include a quorum of the council or school board.
“We’re supposed to be able to access it so we can discern for ourselves what’s going on,” resident Liz Ellaby said.
Another resident, Bob Echols agreed with Ellaby, saying that some parts of the public feel "frozen out" by the decision-making process surrounding the bond and the one-cent sales tax increase that pays for it, and that keeping the task force meetings closed worsens that problem.
“There’s no reason why it couldn’t be public,” Echols said.
Limbaugh said he would provide updates to the public from the task force's meetings, but was not specific about opportunities for public participation and did not invite members of the public to task force meetings.
“We’ll put our heads together to see what we can do to be more transparent,” Limbaugh said.
After the meeting, Limbaugh said the task force's purpose is confined to creating the RFP - which has already been done - and then choosing a project manager from the respondents. He said he expects the project manager's presentation on the best ways to use the bond money will likely be a public meeting. He said he will discuss with other task force members about other ways to involve the public, but did not specify what those might be.