The Unified Government Commission tonight discussed splitting up money intended to go to projects for the 1st District, at large, among the other districts, but the idea was defeated on a 5-4 vote.
That commission seat is currently vacant, and left unfilled after the commission was unable to reach six votes on an appointment last year.
Under the Commission Neighborhood Infrastructure Program, each district receives about $210,000 for small projects such as sidewalk repair, with individual commissioners recommending the projects in their districts.
Commissioner Ann Murguia proposed at the 5 p.m. meeting that the commission take a vote on dividing the money equally by district. She said she didn’t want to have another meeting just on the topic of what to do with the 1st District, at large, allocation, and didn’t want to delay the Public Works Department’s process. She said it was a “minor decision.”
UG Deputy Administrator Doug Bach said usually, the commission doesn’t take action at the special session. It is more of a discussion time. However, UG chief legal counsel Jody Boeding said there is nothing to prevent the commission from taking a vote then.
Commissioner Gayle Townsend asked if it wouldn’t be more equitable to divvy up the district’s funds to all the districts within District 1, at large, instead of the entire county. District 1, at large, is the north side of the county, from Quindaro to Piper.
Commissioner Hal Walker, mayor pro tem, said he was voting against the idea in order to wait until later to consider it. He said the at-large commissioners are free to use the money anywhere in the city, not just in their district.
Commissioner Jane Philbrook said she would like more time to think about it. She liked the idea that the commissioner who served before her gave some of the money to another district to use at Klamm Park because it fell short. But she would hate to miss out on CNIP money that is sorely needed as much on the north side as it is on the south side, she said.
Mayor Mark Holland, the former commissioner from the 1st District, at large, is in Washington, D.C., today.
The votes for the proposal to divide it were Townsend, no; Brian McKiernan, yes; Ann Murguia, yes; Tarence Maddox, yes; Mike Kane, no; Angela Markley, yes; Jim Walters, yes; Jane Philbrook, no; and Walker, no. Six votes were needed to pass.
Currently, the CNIP projects are in the planning phase for 2015. Commissioners were asked to have a list of projects ready by March 31 for the Public Works Department. On May 30, the UG would complete an eligibility review of projects. By July 1, the list would be narrowed to finalists and detailed design would begin, according to UG Engineer Bill Heatherman.
Heatherman said some of the projects funded by CNIP in 2013 included:
- Sidewalk renewal, park improvements, Dunbar School historic marker, utility upgrades, Parkwood Park, benches, stairs, walking path in the 1st District;
- Sidewalks, Gilmore from 10th to Mill Street, and 10th Street from Ivandale Street to Lowell Avenue, Safe Routes to School area, 2nd District;
- Sidewalks, 22nd Street area, and Spring Valley near 43rd and Rainbow, as well as work near Vega Park, 3rd District;
- Remodeling a field for football and soccer for youth, 4th District;
- Remodeling multipurpose rooms, gym and the Patricia “Diane” Kane Community Center, 5th District;
- Sidewalk addition on 55th Street from Hagemann to Oak Grove, Turner Community Walking Park lighting improvements, partnership with Turner Recreation Commission, sidewalk on 42nd and Shawnee Drive to Matney Park, 6th District;
- Sidewalk, Tauromee Avenue, 82nd to 84th streets, near Stony Point Elementary School, 7th District;
- Drainage project and park improvements, 53rd and Georgia, baseball field improvements at Klamm Park, Welborn Park walking trail improvements, 8th District;
- Park improvements planned city wide, two completed at City Park and Rosedale, others under way for private donations to match them and may be installed this year, 1st District, at large;
- Pedestrian crosswalk at Rosedale Park and Mission Road, 2nd District, at large.
After the 5 p.m. meeting, the commission went into a closed executive session to discuss property acquisition before going to its 7 p.m. regular meeting.