CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – Funding for several high-profile city projects, including Frosty Morn and a new parking garage, are back on track following a decision by the City Council Thursday night.
Last month, a $27 million funding bill failed on second reading. It included money for several major projects, including construction of the parking garage, the Frosty Morn center as well as repairs and renovations for the Burt Cobb Community Center, Cumberland Garage, Smith Trahern-Mansion and Vista Lane police station.
Several council members voting against the funding bill cited hesitation to fund a new garage without a clear plan from the Parking Commission to pay the money back.
Thursday, the funding ordinance went back before the council without funding for Burt Cobb, Vista Lane or the $20 million parking garage. Once it was introduced; however, councilmember Stacey Streetman immediately proposed an amendment to restore the garage funding at the original $20 million price tag.
This time, council members approved the funding 8-3.
Voting yes were Brian Zacharias, Wallace Redd, Wanda Smith, Travis Holleman, Karen Reynolds, Stacey Streetman, Joe Shakeenab and Mayor Joe Pitts. Voting no were Ambar Marquis, Wanda Allen and Trisha Butler. Absent from the meeting were Vondell Richmond and DaJuan Little.
Redd changed his vote from the previous meeting, and Shakeenab is new to the council.
A Redd Rule question
Council members Redd and Allen expressed concerns at Thursday’s meeting that the vote may have violated the Redd Rule, which requires that failed legislation wait a minimum of one year before being reconsidered by the City Council.
The rule does allow matters to be reconsidered if they receive meaningful revision or are accepted by the Council via a two-thirds majority vote.
While the ordinance as amended was not a exact copy of its predecessor, lacking funding for the Burt-Cobb Community Center and Vista Lane, with city attorney Lance Baker absent from the meeting, Redd and Allen expressed concerns, with Allen moving to postpone.
“We did not get the message. Not everybody on the council heard that it’s OK because of the Redd Rule, just certain individuals,” said Allen. “I would like to get clarification.”
Streetman argued that the Redd Rule applies to new legislation and not amendments and said that Baker was aware of her amendment, which she argued should dispel any concerns of legality.
‘The question is, do we need a parking garage?’
As in March, the hefty price tag of a new parking garage was the central point of debate for council members.
Opponents of the garage funding said that, while they had heard from citizens questioning their previous vote, the absence of a plan from the Parking Commission was still a major concern.
“While I do know that we’re in need of a parking garage, every other capital project that I’ve voted on since I’ve been here has come with some type of plan. The transportation plan came out as to where we were spending this money,” Allen told council members. “If we’re going to spend $20 million of the taxpayers’ money, we need to be able to talk to them about the plan.”
The Parking Commission has met three times since last month’s meeting. In that time, they have voted to return to analog parking meters, set rates at 25 cents for 10 minutes (a slight decrease from the previous rates), approved a date to resume enforcement, and agreed to conduct a parking study (the parameters of which are yet to be decided).
Proponents argued that the need for a parking garage is too great to wait.
“This boils down to one question: Do we need a parking garage? Yes. Do we need it in the future? No, we need it now,” Holleman said. “Clarksville is watching.”
Redd also spoke to the need for a parking garage, particularly in the face of the F&M Arena, a project he has been critical of in the past, which is slated to open in July 2023.
“The county is putting in the multi-purpose event center – should’ve probably been the city – but it’s going to cause the traffic and it’s going to have the need for increased parking downtown. Although we didn’t make the soup, it looks like we’re going to have to eat it with parking,” Redd said Thursday.
The second voted is expected to be held at the council’s next regular session on May 5 at 6 p.m.