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Springfield council honors former mayor

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By Geoff Hamill

Former Springfield Mayor Mike Haydon’s contributions to the community have not been forgotten. City Council approved a special honor for the late mayor during its meeting on Monday evening.

Upon request by the African-American Heritage Fest Committee, council unanimously approved a resolution in honor of Haydon. The proclamation will be read and presented to Haydon’s family at the festival on August 2. Haydon was serving as the Chief of Staff to Governor Steve Beshear at the time of his death in 2012.

Council considered donating a strip of land along Fairground Lane to the library board and to private landowners. The board wants the strip of land to provide more space for construction of a new library. City Administrator Laurie Smith told council the library board is not required to adhere to zoning requirements.

“Even though they do not have to abide with our zoning laws, because they are a governmental agency, they are attempting to abide in the best possible way,” she said.

Fairground Lane, formerly a fairground entrance, was originally dedicated with a 100-foot right-of-way, to provide ingress and egress to the grounds. A 15-foot strip was deeded to adjoining landowners several years ago, still leaving an exceptionally wide 85-foot right-of-way. Smith said a 40 to 50-foot strip of property - which has never been paved - only creates work for the city.

“You have a nice strip here of 40 to 50 feet, we’re going to estimate,” said Smith. “We don’t really see that this is serving any purpose at all for the city, other than it’s a maintenance issue, because they mow it constantly.”

Smith asked council to consider transferring the excess 40 to 50 foot strip to three landowners on Fairground Lane: the library board, M&J Construction and Robert Osborne.

City Attorney Bill Robinson said transfers to the library board and other adjoining landowners would be possible, but that property would need to be declared as surplus before transfer to a private party.  The attorney said he would research the exact legal requirements and report back to council.

Mayor John Cecconi asked if any councilmembers would oppose donating the strip of land to the library board. None stated opposition. Council will consider the transfer at a future meeting.

Council approved a $7,500 loan to the Springfield Women’s Club for renovation of the club’s building in downtown Springfield. The local Tourism Commission donated the money to Springfield’s Main Street Renaissance Committee to promote tourism. Smith described how the money will be used.

“We’re willing to make a very low interest loan to specific business interests to accomplish some of our goals,” she said. “We advertised approximately a month ago, and the goal that we have is to create a tourism venue that would be conducive to local artisans and producers. Our community is extremely rich in arts and craftsmen. We never really had a place for them to come and have a store front, so to speak.”

Smith said as many as 25 vendors had participated in an earlier attempt to use a room in the Opera House as a store, but the space was insufficient. The Women’s Club is the only group to submit a proposal for the most recent initiative.

“We never lost hope that we could come up with some other location that we could make work for these particular artisans and vendors,” said Smith. “As a Main Street Renaissance group, we advertised for proposals. We requested proposals for a historic building owner to receive up to $7,500, for someone who is willing to offer their building as a tourism-related venue, conducive for a market for local arts and crafts people. We were fortunate that the Women’s Club has submitted a proposal.”

The City Administrator said the club had agreed to renovate their building for retail space with the loan money. Council approved the loan by a 4-0 vote. Councilmember Lisa Haydon abstained because she is a member of the Women’s Club. The loan will be forgivable at the rate of $750 per year, as long as the space is used for the intended purpose.

During department updates, Mayor John Cecconi noted that the Springfield Police Department hired a new officer, Michael Cotton, to replace Officer Brandon Teter, who resigned last month.

The mayor cleared up a complaint concerning emergency response time.

“They had a little problem with someone saying that they called in for 911 – which they didn’t call in – and the response time was questioned,” he said. “When it was pulled off the recorder - and when it was finally called in, it was within four minutes that they were at the accident, which was up at the park.”

The next regular Springfield Council meeting is scheduled for August 13 at 5:30 p.m.