BY STACIE LETT CAIN
This City of Statesville needs a parking deck in the downtown district.
City councilmembers heard that message repeatedly from citizens and business owners during Monday night’s council meeting.
“We just lost an event here in Statesville that would have brought 500 people into the city because we couldn’t offer sufficient parking for the event,” Joseph Bondi said during the public comment period.
“The organizer showed up to see the venue and couldn’t find a parking space. She called and started asking questions about the parking we had to offer and ended up cancelling the booking,” he said.
According to Bondi, although Statesville Civic Center can accommodate up to 600 people, there is sufficient parking for just over 200.
“Our goal is to rehabilitate historic properties that are the pinnacle of our downtown area,” said Marin Tomlin, executive director of the Down Statesville Development Corporation. “The parking deck is pivotal to other properties development, such as the Vance Hotel. That benefits the entire downtown area and the entire city.”
Anita Johnson, of Johnson Group Realty, also spoke about the necessity of going ahead with the Municipal Building planned for city-owned property in South Statesville. The municipal building had been approved by the previous city council, but the new council has put the brakes on the project after scaling back the scope to include only a police headquarters.
“We have told South Statesville since 2010 that we would do something in this area. Some streets don’t have sidewalks, buildings are falling down,” Johnson explained. “What do people think who enter into the city through the southern gateway? That we don’t care about this area of the city?”
The parking deck was on the meeting agenda, and Councilman John Staford made a motion to rescind contracts that had already been voted on and approved by the previous council. He said it could hinder efforts to redevelop the city-owned Vance Hotel.
“If we pursue this parking deck at a $3.9 million cost to the city, we run the risk of the current interested developer walking,” Staford said. “If the developer goes ahead with their plans, they will build their own parking deck and it won’t cost the city a dime.”
But Councilman William Morgan urged the council to stand behind the previous decision instead of going backward.
“Once again we are revisiting an issue that has already been voted on and decided by the previous council,” Morgan implored. “We need to uphold the previous decision, and proceed with the parking deck as we previously decided.
“We need to keep our word. If the developer wishes to build a parking deck, I’m sure the two can be merged.”
Staford’s motion to rescind the contract was defeated by a 5-3 vote with Staford, C.O. Johnson and Steve Johnson all voting for rescinding the contract.
Code of Ethics
The council also voted to approve a proposed Code of Ethics that was presented by City Attorney Leah Messick. The code, which sets forth standard expectations of elected officials and mirrors closely a code approved in 2010 by the council, was approved by the council unanimously.
In addition to charging council members with upholding the trust of the citizens, obeying the law and doing so with integrity, the code also requires council members to keep up to date on new and ongoing legal or ethical issues and the most pertinent constitutional, statutory and other legal requirements with which they must be familiar.
“The only other option that we need to decide on is the option about whether or not you want to have this Code of Ethics re-executed by council each year,” Messick said.
The council voted to approve the Code with the provision to vote each year on it.