Keeping time downtown

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By Jesse Osbourne

What was once thought to be a gift to the city, is now officially a gift to the city.

The clock downtown now belongs to the city of Springfield, whereas it previously belonged to the Rotary Club.
“Some of the Rotarians thought that they had already given it to the city, but we read minutes from three or four years to assure that nothing was ever officially accepted through the city council,” Laurie Smith, city administrator, said.
The initial debate over who the clock belonged to arose when the clock was struck by lightning. After the debate was settled, the Rotary Club paid the bill for the repair.
After paying for the repair, the Rotary Club moved to give the clock to the city.
Smith said the city currently completes 99.9 percent of the maintenance on the clock.
Council member Lisa Haydon asked what the upkeep of the clock might cost.
“It depends on what happens to it,” Glenn Mattingly, city public works director, said. “Lightning, power surges, anything could happen to it. Mack trucks are hard on them, too, probably.”
Mattingly said that unless the brain box went out on the clock again, most other repairs would be economical.
“The little brain box is $1,000 a pop,” he said.
Bill Robinson, city attorney, said the city insurance policy should cover that expense in the event of a lightning strike.
Smith said the deductible would be an issue, however, as the city’s deductible on such claim would be $1,000.
“Our only hope is that it was a fluke and that it’s not going to happen again, but we can’t guarantee that,” she said.
Council member Debbie Wakefield said that the clock was just another expense for the city.
“We’re going to have to put a roof on the Robertson Building, it’s another added expense,” she said. “We’re adding more expenses.”
Mattingly said that unless something else goes wrong with the clock, the city would only continue paying an expense it’s already been paying.
Haydon made a motion to accept the clock, council member Carolyn Hardin seconded the motion. All were in favor, except for Wakefield, who voted against accepting the clock.
“We need to put money in people’s pockets,” she said. “People need raises.”

E. High Street
The council voted to adopt the Urban Renewal Development plan as it was amended on Nov. 8.
The plan was amended to include properties at 532 and 534 E. High Street.
“I certainly could see that you all as council members would certainly want this to be considered, because these are the two properties remaining that are in disrepair, there’s no other way to put it,” Smith said.
The amendment required an opportunity for public comment, none of which was made at the meeting.
Council member Brooke Coulter asked what would happen to the land after the motion was made to adopt the amended plan.
“Kriss Lowry (who is managing the housing and redevelopment contract for Springfield) will be negotiating to acquire those properties. Those properties will be like the other (redeveloped E. High Street) properties, they will become city property,” Smith said.
Smith said the city would have to donate the property to a group such as Habitat for Humanity in order to close out the project.
“There are about five or six lots there now,” Smith said. “Some of those are narrow, kind of shotgun lots. We’re hoping that they can be combined, and maybe made (into) two larger lots. That could be something Habitat could be interested in.”
Hardin asked if grant money paid for the lots. Smith said that grant money does pay for the lots.
“We were very fortunate that our grant money really went a little bit further than we anticipated, because they were able to get more attractive quotes on the homes when they built them,” she said.
All council members were in attendance. The next regular scheduled meeting is Dec. 12 at 5 p.m. at City Hall.