May 14, 2015
Spirit Homes: The Empire Strikes Back
— Submitted by a Conway resident The Mayor pulled a fast one at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. The agenda and subsequent votes for the Spirit Homes project were structured in a peculiar way. But it was a very effective way if your goal is to reduce transparency and ram your project through without regard...
The Mayor pulled a fast one at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. The agenda and subsequent votes for the Spirit Homes project were structured in a peculiar way.
But it was a very effective way if your goal is to reduce transparency and ram your project through without regard for planning, or budgets, or financing for operations, or even deciding or announcing the scope of the project.
In short, if all you want to do is buy a building without any plan for what comes after that, it was perfect.
Last night the Council voted on the purchase contract, authorizing funds for the earnest money, accepting the interest rate for the five year financing (up to $4 million), authorizing the issuance of a promissory note for the financing, and a resolution to obtain Nabholz Construction for a structural and environmental review. Five votes.
The mayor structured it so that ALL VOTES necessary for the purchase of the Spirit Homes building and property were taken Tuesday night. Although this deal has been sold as having a 45-day inspection period before the city is committed, that wasn’t how it played out.
NO FURTHER ACTION from the City Council is required to purchase Spirit Homes. If the Council does nothing else, the deal is done.
Three Future Absences and It’s Still a Done Deal
The Mayor kept saying that the Council could still back out at the second meeting in June if the deal was not to their liking or for any reason. But, as even Andy Hawkins pointed out, all it would take is for three Council members to miss that meeting and it’s still a done deal.
There were objections from several Council members, notably Hawkins, Shelly Mehl, and Mary Smith. Theo Jones and Wes Pruitt were absent. Although there were objections NO ONE voted “No.” Hawkins did vote “here” on the purchase agreement — which technically counts the same as a no vote.
Cursory Engineering Review
Mehl did insist she wanted to see the engineering report before the day of the meeting. She specifically said she wanted at least a week to review it before the Council meeting at the end of the 45-day period.
The Mayor agreed to specify to Nabholz that the report must be submitted by the middle of June.
The Council is being misled about how much information they will get from this engineering review. Although the information was not available to the public, it was mentioned the Nabholz contract will cost $4,000.
With the going rate for engineering services, this will get the City about 32 to 40 manhours of engineering time, total. That’s not design and analysis time, but total time including time to draft the report. This will not include a detailed analysis of the cost to do this project — it will merely say there are no environmental issues, the building is structurally sound, and yes, you can build a pool in this building.
Mayor, City Don’t Yet Know What Will be Built or Operating Costs
Smith said she wanted to see a plan for how much it was going to cost the run this facility before the end of the inspection period. The City plans a special committee meeting to flesh out the project with specifics and some kind of timeline for what would be constructed when; they may meet as early as this Thursday (May 14).
Whitmore stated she wanted an agreement as to what kind of pool facilities are going to be built so the public can be informed.
To the end, the Mayor insisted the Council will get a further chance to act before the end of the 45-day inspection period. But after Tuesday night’s votes, unless the Council takes some further official action, the purchase of Spirit Homes is now a done deal.