Cleveland City Council Votes 3-2 To Move Forward On Replacing Cleveland High Gym; City Manager Warns Action Could "Shut The City Down"

Monday, March 10, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

The Cleveland City Council on Monday voted to fund the demolition of the old Cleveland High School gym and to start funding the construction of the new gym out of the City Council's reserve balance rather than try to raise taxes. Several members said they could borrow money later in the process if it becomes necessary.

The situation involving the structurally degrading Cleveland High School gymnasium was declared an emergency by the City Council and the Cleveland Board of Education during the Monday afternoon City Council meeting.

Dr. Martin Ringstaff presented an estimate of costs to demolish the old dome building and to move the utilities. He said in total, the project would range from approximately $250,000 to $280,000. The estimate for building the new facility is $12 million.

However, not everyone agreed that using the reserve balance was the best solution. City Manager Janice Casteel told the Council, "If you spend $12 million out of your reserve fund, you are going to shut the city down." She said the reserve fund consisted of $12.3 million.

Mrs. Casteel continued, "If you want a gym, you have to pay for it. If you take it from your reserves, you won't be able to fund your ongoing projects. We have never budgeted to dip into our fund balance."

She pointed out that the School Board had previously said it could not dip into its own fund balance.

Councilman David May agreed, saying it would not only "break the city," but also "make the bond rating go flat."

Councilman George Poe Jr. said, "I think this is an emergency situation. We have a facility that's unstable. I feel like we should use emergency money and put it back later."

Councilman Richard Banks said he knew it would be difficult, but the city would not have to pay it all at once. He also said the council would never have the votes for a tax increase or vehicle registration fee.

Mayor Tom Rowland pointed out that because of the building's deteriorating condition, it could also become an issue of liability if it fell before the city had it demolished.

It came down to a vote after Councilman Banks made a motion. Councilmen May and McKenzie voted no.

Several Cleveland High School parents also spoke before the vote. One mother said, "I'm a parent, I'm a taxpayer, and a professional volunteer. I spend a lot of time at Cleveland High." She told the Council that the dome was where the Raider family gathered.

She said, "It's where expectations of what it means to be a Cleveland Raider are imparted."

She continued, "This is what's not happening right now because we don't have a venue to do that. We don't have a venue for assemblies. I'm a fiscal conservative, I understand your constraints, but the need is great."

Another mother and former Cleveland High student said her children are also now at CHS. She said her oldest daughter was a basketball player who had colleges interested in her. However, because of the dome not being replaced, she had spent her entire senior season playing at other locations. She also said it made it difficult for scouts to come watch her play.

She told the council she could not pay for her children to go to college but that they were working on receiving athletic scholarships as she had done.

A Cleveland High father emphasized that sports were also an important part of the community because they mold character. He said his daughter, also a basketball player, had dreamed of playing for Cleveland for a long time.       

Councilman Dale R. Hughes said, "I agree that it is an emergency. We have a situation that has impaired or diminished both the programs at the middle school as well as at the high school." He said having the the middle and high school share the middle school gym was creating lots of scheduling conflicts.

Councilman Banks said it was creating a "negative impact on our whole city."

During the meeting, an upgrade to certain city traffic lights on State Highway 60, particularly on 25th Street and Georgetown Road, was also discussed.

Allan Childress gave the presentation, saying so far the upgrades had been a success. He said economic benefits in terms of delay reduction, emissions, and fuel reduction would total around $1,091,225 annually.

A public hearing was also held for the creation of an Interstate Gateway Corridor Overlay Zoning District, which is designed to eventually be adopted for corridors around exits 20, 25, and 27.

 


 

 


Congress Sends President First State Department Authorization In 14 Years

Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,  on Saturd ay announced that for the first time  in 14 years , a State Department authorization bill will be sent to the president’s desk to be signed into law. The Senate unanimously approved   S.1635   on Saturday. It is legislation referred to the Senate earlier this week from the ... (click for more)

Corker Votes Against Continuing Resolution Spending Bill; Alexander Says It Will Fully Fund His 21st Century Cures Bill

Senator Bob Corker released the following statement after voting against a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution. “The inability to get our fiscal house in order is the greatest long-term threat our country faces, and I opposed this legislation because it will grow the federal deficit through the continued use of budget gimmicks,” said Senator Corker. “Last ... (click for more)

New School Funding Ideas

After reading the article “County Schools Prepare To Set Priorities For Next Round Of School Building Funding,” I could not help but think about how helpful it would be to have the millions of taxpayer dollars given the owners of Walnut Common apartments to build some new schools.   In case you did not know, since 2008 our elected officials have given away millions in taxpayer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Facebook Starlet

The Pants Store, a toney women’s boutique in Birmingham’s Mountain Book community, held its annual Holiday Open House about a week or so and, as usual, the popular store was full of customers and holiday cheer. It was a festive gathering, fun for all, but as store employees cleaned up for the next day, they happened across an empty designer-shoe box and a brassiere somebody had ... (click for more)

CSAS Gets Defensive In Win Over Boyd-Buchanan

High school basketball is still in the early stages of the 2016-17 season, but CSAS coach Mark Dragoo is already seeing improvement from his team and they’ve only played four games. The Patriots are always a good team with lots of quick, athletic players who can shoot well and play sticky defense. That was the case on Friday night at Boyd-Buchanan as the Patriots shot well ... (click for more)

Bradley Girls Stave Off Stone Memorial's Upset Bid, 48-46

The Bradley Central Bearettes’ ninth straight win to open the high school basketball season was their toughest to date. The Bearettes got a game-winning field goal from junior standout Rhyne Howard – on an assist by Halle Hughes – with no time left on the clock for a 48-46 non-district victory over stubborn Stone Memorial at Jim Smiddy Arena on Friday night. After a turnover ... (click for more)