Discord erupts among Pelham mayor, city council
Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2016
By Briana Harris / Staff Writer
PELHAM – Pelham Mayor Gary Waters voiced disapproval at Tuesday’s, Sept. 6, City Council work session about the process of designing the city’s new recreation center.
Waters said he has not been included in the planning process for the rec center and will not sign the necessary documents so that the project can move forward until he is brought up to speed with it.
The disagreement was sparked when City Council President Rick Hayes began speaking about design ideas for the interior of the building.
The facility will be roughly 35,000 square feet and is scheduled to open around the same time as Pelham Park Middle School in fall 2017.
“The process is not right and I will not be a silent partner anymore,” Waters said. “My first time seeing the architectural rendering of the outside of the rec center was when it was published in the Shelby County Reporter.”
Waters said when Pelham residents ask him questions about the rec center he is unable to properly respond because he doesn’t know what’s going on with the project.
Hayes responded by saying that Waters had an opportunity to be a part of the design process, but chose not to be. Hayes also said the mayor was included in the emails regarding the design plans that were being discussed at the work session.
Waters said he doesn’t think the council understands what work sessions are for.
“You lay it all out during the work session and get input from everyone,” Waters said. “Phone calls and emails are not the same as having transparent meetings.”
Waters added that he thinks work sessions should be held the day before City Council meetings, instead of just before council meetings are scheduled to begin, so that there is adequate time to thoroughly discuss council business.
Waters questioned the involvement that other council members and Parks and Recreation Director Billy Crandall had in the design process. Councilwomen Beth McMillan and Karyl Rice said they attended about three meetings and Crandall said he has been very involved in the project.
“I’m telling you that I did not know about any of these meetings and I’m not OK with this,” Waters said.
Councilman Ron Scott made a motion to remove an item regarding the rec center from the city council agenda until Waters felt comfortable with the plans and McMillan seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Waters made plans to meet with the Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood architects prior to the next City Council meeting to learn more about the project.