The Aug. 20 Board of Aldermen meeting started an hour early to devote time to hopefully come closer to a decision on the .
The recreation center is decades old and in need of repair. The city is attempting to decide what to do with the building. The process has taken years.
The Brentwood Public Works Committee: chairman Keith Robertson, Andy Leahy, Cindy Manestar and Maureen Saunders talked through the subject with Mayor Pat Kelly and other aldermen, and in the end, the entire board passed a motion similar to the agreement made at the
Public Works Committee chairman Keith Robertson began by saying the committee discussed the possibility of combining the functions of city hall into the rec center, and a simple survey would be used to determine how to do that.
Saunders said they decided a consultant was needed to ask fair questions to avoid the appearance of bias.
City administrator Bola Akande said a survey would cost from $10,000 to $12,000.
“We’re talking about thee or four questions, not a 3-page survey,” Robertson said.
Leahy said his original idea was to spend approximately $600.
“Now we’re looking at from $10,000 to $12,000? Mine included $300 for printing and $300 for postage,” Leahy said. “I’m surprised all of a sudden we’ve grown that high in expense.”
Saunders said the survey grew more expensive when the discussion led to wanting to avoid bias, as well as Robertson’s idea to sell city hall. She said she just wanted a simple survey to follow up from the earlier survey.
Leahy repeated his three yes-or-no questions from the earlier meeting:
- Should the ice skating rink remain a part of the rec center?
- Should the city add a fitness center to the rec center?
- Should the city look to incorporate the rec center and the city hall into one building?
“That’s when we got to the fitness center,” Saunders said. She said the cost involved with taking away the agreement with the Heights, in Richmond Heights, and the definition of what was wanted in a gym made them decide it was more involved than they thought.
“So maybe we needed a consultant (for a survey),” she said. “I don’t know if we need to spend that much.”
Manestar said they also talked about not having a full-blown gym/fitness center. She asked Robertson to clarify his idea to combine functions in the rec center.
“I’m unclear,” she said. “Because if we do a full-blown gymnasium and a full-blown fitness center, how then will we incorporate the city hall and library, everything over at the rec center. How in the world are we going to have parking for that, especially on court night?”
Kelly said he was concerned about that too. What if the survey came back with the residents wanting everything, he asked. He said he thinks they know the residents would like to keep the rec center and upgrade the facility.
Alderman Tom Kramer said in the previous survey the residents said they wanted a pool and a fitness center, which are very expensive, because price tags weren’t included in the survey.
He also said the process was taking a long time because the new aldermen are “late to the party,” and want to have their input.
“I can’t help that you didn’t do the initial survey with costs,” Saunders said. “I don’t know why you didn’t. The people who were here at the party early chose not to.”
Robertson said the idea of selling city hall and moving the function to the rec center was introduced recently to him because of the “large amount of vacant space in the (city hall) building.”
“Are we going to spend more money on city hall when we really don’t have a good use for that space? Which is my opinion. Or are we going to look at being more efficient and create more of a central town hall kind of layout,” he said. “It is doable, whether or not it’s ideal, I don’t know, we have to study that.”
Saunders promoted a comprehensive plan that considers the city hall corner as well as the rec center as a town hall center. She said it’s poor planning to “pull the trigger” on a bond issue and not consider both buildings.
She again promoted a survey.
Kelly said they are the elected officials and they’re elected to make decisions.
“I don’t think every time we want to make a decision we need to do a survey and a phone poll,” he said.
He said the rec center is their first concern, also that there’s no need to move out of city hall, and he doesn’t want to put that question to the public.
“I am delighted to hear you say that,” Saunders said, but said a survey is needed.
“I agree, we do have to make decisions,” she said. “But, this is their spot, this is their town hall. A little bit more information from them is a good thing.”
In the end, Kelly made a motion to interview various companies that conduct surveys, and tell the companies where they are and where they’re trying to get and see if they can come up with a strategy. The committee would decide from there.
It passed unanimously.
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