Council and school board work session
Council and school board members listen to a work session discussion on how to manage the construction of schools expansion, parks improvement and a new public safety building.
The Homewood Board of Education will pursue its own project manager to handle demographics and a plan for expansion across the school system, independently of the parks expansion and new public safety building that the city had funded along with it.
Last week, city council members and school board members found a number of sticking points in a recommendation to have all three projects managed by B.L. Harbert, International at a cost of $4.3 million. Those problems included cost, transparency from members of the task force making the recommendation and a letter from competitor Hoar Program Management expressing dissatisfaction with parts of the process.
At the April 3 meeting, a general consensus emerged to let the school system choose its own project management firm to suit its particular needs, which include future demographic trends of the city and selecting from several options on how to expand the schools' capacity. The city would choose its own project manager for the parks and public safety building.
“I have zero preference whom the schools work with,” Council President Bruce Limbaugh said tonight.
This decision was confirmed at an April 10 work session of the whole council. Superintendent Bill Cleveland said he had talked with board members, who want to start "from scratch" with their own request for proposals for the entire board, as well as the superintendent and chief financial officer, to sit in on the interviews.
Cleveland said the RFP will be more specific to the school system's needs. A draft RFP has already been sent to the board's attorney and he anticipated proposals returning by April 27, so the board could make a decision in early May. Strategic planning for Homewood City Schools is still ongoing to create a master plan, including growth plans, and Cleveland said those are still on track to wrap up by the end of the school year.
“I think it makes a lot of sense based on what we talked about last week,” Ward 2 Representative Andrew Wolverton said.
The council voted to approve funding for the board to hire a demographer.
The council also approved the use of Harbert as the parks and public safety projects manager. Ward 3 Representative Walter Jones said negotiation must still be done, but they will start with the numbers included in Harbert's proposal, minus the schools portion of the project. According to this proposal, management of pre-construction and construction phases would total around $2.6 million.
Additionally, the council approved the signing of contracts with Davis Architects to begin work on the parks projects, including ball field reorganization at West Homewood Park and a new pool at Patriot Park, and with CMH Architects for work on the design of the new public safety building in West Homewood.
The council also:
- Set an April 24 public hearing to consider economic development incentives for Oldacre McDonald's redevelopment of Wildwood South shopping center.
- Asked city attorney Mike Kendrick to contact the owners of 602 Windsor Drive. The owners had started work on a new driveway and received a stop order until they applied for the appropriate permits, then also applied for a variance request. However, the owners did not show up at tonight's public meeting and Building, Engineering and Zoning employee Greg Cobb said the owners had completed work on the driveway anyway and it did not meet city ordinances. Kendrick said he would write a letter giving the property owners two weeks to remove the driveway and begin the city's permitting and variance process instead.
- Expressed their opposition to state Senate Bill 316, which would prevent a municipality from levying delivery license fees on businesses who deliver to that city, regardless of whether they have a physical location there, as long as deliveries are less than $75,000 per year in that particular city. "It's another opportunity to chip away at revenue for the city of Homewood," Limbaugh said.
- Approved the closure of Brookwood Village Street from noon to 10 p.m. on May 4, 11 and 18 for the Brookwood Live! concert series.
- Reset a public hearing for April 24 to consider declaring 2827 and 2831 16th Place South public nuisances, due to the owner making progress and requesting more time.
- Set an April 24 public hearing for a sign ordinance variance request at 124 State Farm Parkway.
- Set an April 24 public hearing for a request to rezone 285 Palisades Boulevard from Office Building District to Green Springs Urban Renewal District.
- Dropped a fence ordinance variance request at 1715 Mayfair Drive due to the home being sold.