At the March council meeting, our city manager, Mr. Bill Ed Cannon, asked council to consider not building a new unmanned welcome center at the intersection of Highway 76 and Broad Street.
For those of you who may not be aware of this location, this would be in the parking lot of Industrial Supply, across the street from the Main Street Bakery and Carter Gault’s frame shop, at a cost of nearly $500,000.
Instead, Mr. Cannon suggested that we move the utility billing from our main lobby into the space formerly occupied by the Bailey Agency. This move would allow us to better serve our citizens and make it easier for those with disabilities to pay their bills at the drive thru which we already own at city hall, and is not in current use. It would also allow us to renovate our main lobby as our welcome center.
The M.S. Bailey Municipal Center is approaching 50 years in age and is in need of deferred maintenance. The money that would have been spent on the welcome center could then be used to provide staffing, and much-needed renovation to the M.S. Bailey Municipal Center. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Cannon’s recommendation for several reasons.
The City of Clinton already owns numerous buildings, which need major renovations. Our public safety building I’ve been told needs $4-$10 million worth of work depending on the scope of the repairs.
The D.E. Tribble building needs approximately $1.5 million worth of work. The Martha Dendy Center needs approximately $3 million worth of work. The Boy Scout Hut is in dire need of repairs, as is the Girl Scout Hut. The American Legion Hut is in need of $100,000-$200,000 worth of work, depending on the scope of repairs. Additionally, Pine Street Park and Pine Haven parks have both been identified as needing some upgrades.
In other words, until we can maintain our existing properties, it would be irresponsible to build a new building, which would not be utilized on a day-to-day basis.
Fortunately, at our March council meeting, council agreed with Mr. Cannon and authorized him to proceed with moving our utility billing and making needed repairs to the Municipal Center. With the numerous buildings that the city currently owns, it’s time to have an employee dedicated with a budget to do routine maintenance to city-owned buildings. I hope that this can be addressed in the upcoming budget.
Many of you may not have visited our textile museum, which is located in our main lobby. By putting our welcome center in the lobby as well, visitors will get the full scope of the past, present, and future of our city.
Much has been said about the railroad, but anyone who has been in this town long enough knows what put our town on the map, and that was Clinton Mills. We must continue to embrace our textile heritage as we move towards greater economic development for our city.
I’m proud that we have such a proactive council, and city staff, who’ve helped identify a more cost-effective plan for bringing this welcome center into reality. By putting the welcome center in our lobby, we will be able to save money and make the needed renovations to the M.S. Bailey Municipal Center at the same time, and we will also be able to staff our welcome center with friendly faces to greet any visitors who visit our wonderful city.
(Bob McLean is mayor of Clinton.)