Progress on the Martha Dendy Center
Clinton City Manager Bill Ed Cannon – almost seven months into the job – gave his first State of the City address Monday night during the August meeting of Clinton City Council to a crowd of about 25 people.
Cannon addressed plans for the former Martha Dendy School building – which two citizens had expressed concerns about the lack of progress during public comment.
The city manager said Rev. Steven L. Evans, a local pastor, is heading up a process to find people who want to use the building for long-term projects, along with finding money to fund needed improvements to the part of the building remaining standing, which will become a community center.
Evans said he will release a Request For Qualifications on Aug. 20. “The RFQ will weed out people who don’t qualify” as having a sustainable use of the building, which he said will also be an empowerment center.
“Tell me what makes you think you are qualified to be part of the Martha Dendy Center,” he said. “Not for one year, but for five years or 10 years.”
After the RFQ process, Evans’ group will seek RFPs (Request For Proposals), which gets into the nuts and bolts of repurposing the deteriorating building.
In another part of the State of the City report, Cannon said he has made an unofficial offer for land to be used as a recreation complex and hopes to make an announcement and to break ground soon.
He said the complex will not just be used for soccer, basketball, football, baseball, tennis and other athletic competition, but would hopefully also have a small community center for events and indoor recreation.
Cannon said the land he is seeking to purchase is large enough for all those things, plus an amphitheater, as well as future residential development.
“I’m tired of hearing nothing has been done,” Cannon said. “You can’t do this overnight.”
Later, during a break in the meeting, Mayor Bob McLean said city council would have to vote to authorize the purchase of the property if the offer is accepted.
Cannon said city council will have to consider additional funding and partnerships to maintain the complex. “It’s expensive to build (an athletic facility), but nothing like the cost to maintain it,” Cannon said.
The city manager said the city has talked to the Clinton YMCA about possibly building a splash pad for kids.
He also said the city wants to add a farmers’ market type building at the Vance Park, located behind city hall. He said the property will easily hold a 100’x50’ building, which could also be used as a location for food trucks and for entertainment.
His plan calls for installing public restrooms in the current carriage house on the property.
He said the Greenville Health System has plans to fund construction of a portion of Swamp Rabbit Trail from the Laurens County Memorial Hospital to the Richloom textile building on Hwy. 76.
City officials are waiting on the results of a professional assessment of all the city’s current parks (due the end of April) before seeking bids “for much-needed updates and improvements.”
Plans are on hold for construction of the Millers Fork Trail near the frontage road connection Hwy 72 and Hwy. 56 after construction bids were more than $300,000. The city received a grant of only $99,000 to build the trail. Cannon said he also identified problems with the proposed plan, but “it’s not a dead project.”
The current city budget includes a plan to privatize the city’s sanitation service (curbside trash collection). Cannon said bids came in higher than anticipated -- $401,000 per year.
He said the city could purchase a side-loading trash truck with a single operator and operate the trash collection system for $205,576 per year, including the cost of the truck.
That would be $195,000 lower than the cost of using a private company and $61,000 per year less than the current cost of the city-operated trash collection program.
Cannon said the city has offered to sell Rosemont Cemetery to two private companies, along with an additional 20 acres for expansion. “There is no interest,” he said.
Council voted to spend $583,427 to extend Technology Way in the I-26 Commerce Park. The contract was awarded to Elmore Land and Site and will be funded from the sale of property and from a Santee Cooper grant.
Council also voted to purchase a natural gas generator from Blanchard Equipment of West Columbia for $84,508. The city received a FEMA grant to fund the purchase.
The generator will be used to provide backup power for the Public Safety Building and the city’s communications center.
Aramie Kommers, representing the Laurens County Cycling Club, asked council to consider installing bike safety lanes on city streets where possible and also to adopt the Give 3 SC campaign, which requires motorists to give a minimum clearance of three feet when passing a bicycle.
Ashley Rochester was sworn in by city clerk Tammy Templeton as a certified housing inspector.
Council took no action following an executive session lasting an hour and 45 minutes.