This week’s commission meeting (4/25):
This was a pretty light meeting. We got an update on the Diamonds Sport Park. It looks like it’s projected to actually make money this year, so that’s great news! It hasn’t made any money yet, but we look to be in a much better position than we were this time last year when we lost over $33,000. We had our auditors look into it. We listened to their recommendations, and it looks like it’s turning around. I still have concerns beyond the primary concern of losing money. Mainly, I’m concerned about running our Parks & Recreation Department ragged on a park that, to many people, doesn’t feel like a “Newberry” park just break even or even to just be making a couple thousand dollars. Also, Newberry is in the middle of a fairly big project, to say the least, with Nations Park. Now, our P&R Dep. isn’t going, initially, to have any responsibilities with Nations, but it is possible that Newberry will run some programs through Nations later on. So, I’m worried that we might miss an opportunity by being distracted with Diamonds. Of course, we really need to wait and see how much money we make, assuming the projections are accurate, and we end up in the black. That will be the ultimate decision maker, but please, leave your comments about this park because this is an issue we really need resident feedback on to make a good decision about!The only other thing of note in the meeting was a proposal for the City to invest in a biomass based energy source “experiment.” It would be a $4,000 investment with two other partners in it for equal amounts. It’s potential is exciting, and it is certainly something we could get excited about, especially given Newberry’s utility problems. But, $4,000 is a lot of money to experiment with right now. Of course, if it works out, $4,000 could be a drop in the bucket. Please, leave comments about this issue!
I’ve had a very exciting couple of weeks! Not only did the citizens of Newberry honor me by entrusting me with the office of City Commissioner but also I was sworn in along with your new City Commissioner for Group 4, Robert Fillyaw, and your new Mayor, Bill Conrad. I look forward to a productive relationship with them as well as the existing commissioners.
The City put us right to work. Ten minutes after the swearing in ceremony, we held a special meeting to approve the ranking system that will be used to select the construction company that will build Nations Park. If you are just now getting up to speed on what’s happening in Newberry, Nations Park is a 16 field baseball park being built on SW 30th St. just south of town. It’s projected to bring between 90,000 and 120,000 tourists into our town during its tournament season and clearly represents the biggest and best opportunity for Newberry to grow in a responsible way. (Please, click the link for Nations Park on the right of the page to leave comments or ask questions about this issue.) So, this special meeting was an important one since we were making decisions about which company was going to get the bid on the biggest project Newberry has ever undertaken! (Don’t worry! Since no one knew the outcome of the election, the City Manager, Keith Ashby, had the foresight to give the sitting commissioners as well as the candidates the information we needed to make an informed decision before the election.) The ranking system was approved, which is a credit to the hard work of the Ranking Committee. They did a great job, which made our job easier. Now, the City can proceed with negotiations with the top ranked company, which we have to do since the estimate is over the City’s 7,000,000 budget. We have a lot of work left to do. But, this is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever had the pleasure to work on, and I’m ready to get started!
The rest of my first couple of weeks as your commissioner were spent in meetings talking about ways to increase the communication between residents and the City. I’m hoping to update the City’s website to make it a little more user friendly, and I’m also hoping to continue working with Barbara Hendrix, the Director of the Main Street Organization, to get a Newberry Newsletter started.
I hope this information has been helpful. If you have any questions or comments about anything you’ve read here, please, leave me a comment, and I will try to get with you as soon as I can!