Council rejects bid approval for rec center

The proposed Madison Recreation Center and natatorium would be built adjacent to Madison City Schools Stadium on Celtic Drive. CONTRIBUTED
The proposed Madison Recreation Center and natatorium would be built adjacent to Madison City Schools Stadium on Celtic Drive. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – Opinions, emotional at times, were vocal from Madison City Council members and residents about the fate of Madison Recreation Center.

At its Aug. 29 meeting, council rejected Resolution No. 2016-214-R, “Authorization to Complete Rec Campus Project” after explanation from District 2 Councilman Steve Smith. The vote was necessary because Lee Builders’ bid will expire on Aug. 30.

City Attorney Kelly Butler said council’s vote “instructs staff to wrap up this iteration of the process (for Lee Builders). It is not the (complete abandonment) of a recreation project.”

Reiterating Butler’s comments, District 5 Councilman Tommy Overcash said, “The only thing that has to be done tonight is voting on the construction bid. We received three good bids. The rec center will be a great opportunity for the city.”

Council President Tim Holcombe said, “What we’ve always needed is a solid third-party agreement, and we don’t have that.”

On July 11, council had approved a conditional award for the recreation campus to Lee Builders Inc. at approximately $23 million, based partly on approval by council’s agreement with Fieldhouse or other outside entity.

In public comments, Brad Johnson, who lost his bid for District 2 in the municipal election, asked why a vote had to be taken. “There has been no public input since it became a $23-million project. We need more time to digest it … Do you care what the citizens of Madison are telling you?”

Buck Clemons, who unsuccessfully ran for Council District 1, recommended securing “an experienced program manager. Use a website for all documents and history of the project.”

Kathryn Norman, who was defeated in the District 6 race, asked “How dare you to place us in $20 to $30 million in debt without a public forum?”

Butler said the vote was not “‘new’ news. We are at a crossroads at whether or not to follow through with this plan. Tomorrow is the drop-dead date for Lee Builders’ bid.”

“I was shocked to see this on the agenda. It took a lot of guts,” Bebe Oetjen said. “You removed the cost analysis and operation agreement. You’re going to build it with no money? I could cry at the way this has been handled.”

“We have a lame duck city council,” Tom Scovill said. “This is not the type of project that you want to pursue until the new council and mayor are seated.”

Tim Holtcamp with Madison Board of Education spoke in favor of the natatorium and thanked Councilman Smith for his work on the recreation center. “This has always been a publicly discussed project,” Holtcamp said.

Dr. Terri Johnson, school board president, said the city has filled in two swimming pools as the population has grown. “No one has ever asked for a pro forma (financial statements) for the library. Please move forward with the rec center.”

In other business, council accepted two 2017 Ford Fusion vehicles each valued at $16,918.00 from Madison County Commissioner Steve Haraway. Madison Police Department will use the vehicles.

Larger payments included $70,592.95 to Holzheimer Bolek & Meehan for architectural and engineering services for Madison Public Library and $130,101.09 to Wiregrass Construction Company Inc. for Mose Chapel Road improvements.

Following up on previous approval, council paid $920,000 for land purchase from Judith D. Freudenberger payable from 2015-A Bond Proceeds for Madison Public Library.

Council approved a request for on-premise beer and wine license for Ted’s BBQ, 8780 Madison Blvd. Greenbrier Woods, Phase IV-B, was added into the city’s maintenance program. Bob Wagner was re-appointed as city representative to HEMSI Board of Directors.

Alex Riley asked council to support MadisonUp’s inaugural block party on an empty lot near the intersection of Gillespie Road and Wall Triana on Sept. 24 from 1 to 4 p.m. “I invite you to get to know the people that you are working for,” Riley said. MadisonUp is a non-profit organization promoting community rejuvenation.

Following up on a council request, District 7 Councilwoman Ronica Ondocsin asked Trulock for an update on the status of Police Chief Larry Muncey. Butler said she and Trulock had worked on Muncey’s issue but would not speak for the mayor. “It is a very sensitive personnel matter and legal issue. There’s no change as of right now,” Trulock said.

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