To the Editor:
It is the public policy of North Carolina that the hearings, deliberations, and actions of these bodies be conducted openly. This statement is directly from North Caroline Statute.
Did the Iredell County Board of Commissioners fail to follow this policy?
During October 17, 2023, Board meeting, in which the Jennings Park Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) – 2 was discussed, I contend they failed to do so. Watch the video of the pre-agenda meeting and the official meeting and decide for yourself. You can find it on the county website.
The pre-agenda meeting included a discussion of GMP-2, which added the ballfields, buildings and finishes to Jennings Park. There were also four priced alternates available which included artificial turf for the soccer fields; artificial turf for the championship baseball outfield; artificial turf for the other three baseball outfields; and addition of the crow’s nest.
Commissioner Gene Houpe was not satisfied with the alternates and wanted to add artificial turf to all four baseball infields. The county manager and county project manager reminded the Board numerous time that turf on the infields was not priced nor designed. The county manager and project manager both stated adding an alternate for artificial turf on the infields would add 90 to 120 days to the schedule and also have a domino effect to all the subcontractors already planning their work. The issue was not resolved during the pre-agenda meeting.
The regular Board meeting on October 17 restarted the discussion on the infield artificial turf and again the addition of this alternative would add 90 to 120 days to the schedule was brought up. Because of the added time to get bids and the design work, this plan was rejected by the Board. After much discussion, the Board voted 4 to 1 — with Commissioner Houpe dissenting — to award GMP-2 with Alternate 1 (artificial turf on the soccer fields) with no further action on artificial turf for the infields.
The November 21 Board meeting included consideration of a GMP-3 that was primarily the cost to use artificial turf on all four baseball infields. Remember, any action on artificial infield turf was soundly rejected at the October 17 Board meeting.
Again, it is public policy of North Carolina that the hearings, deliberations, and actions of these bodies be conducted openly. Obviously, the Board failed to approve the action to utilize county resources for artificial infield design costs and the bid process during a public meeting.
I e-mailed the county manager and the Board and was basically told that a majority of the Board had told the county manager to go forward on this decision to get pricing for the turf and the design.
I stated that since this was not done in a public meeting, it appeared to violate NC statute on public meetings. Both the county manager and at least one member of the Board said no laws were violated.
Is this a one-time occurrence where an action was taken by the Board without a public meeting? Is the decision to expend county resources, especially after it was officially voted down, not an action to be approved by the Board and required by statute?
If the Board and county manager disagree, what other actions have been hidden from the public? Please watch the video and decide for yourself if the Board should have made this decision in front of the public.