Scippio loses last ditch effort to halt Belview funding

City Councilmember Annette Scippio

Scippio loses last ditch effort to halt Belview funding
January 06
13:25 2021

Although the meeting was three days after New Year’s Day, the first city council meeting did include a few fireworks. In a last ditch effort to halt $1 million in additional funding being allocated to the renovation of Belview Recreation Center, City Councilmember Annette Scippio proposed a substitute motion, sending the project back to the development stage. 

Here’s what we know: In 2019, City Council approved a motion that called for the reconstruction of Belview Recreation Center. The motion initially set aside $3 million for the project from the city’s debt capacity and Southeast Ward development bonds. 

Original plans for Belview included a new gymnasium, dedicated classroom and work space for the S.O.A.R. (Successful Outcomes After Release) and YouthBuild Programs, a computer lab, meeting room space for community groups, a new playground, improved parking and lighting inside and outside the facility. After several community meetings, residents said they wanted to see the new gymnasium expanded to include an indoor walking track. And after meeting architects, it was later determined that it would be more feasible to renovate the current facility instead of opting for a total rebuild. 

According to Tasha Logan-Ford, assistant city manager, the changes to the original plans would cost an additional $977,000. To cover the cost Councilmember James Taylor, who is publisher of The Chronicle, suggested using $500,000 from 2018 Park and Recreation bonds and covering the remaining cost with Southeast Ward development bonds.

During a recent Finance Committee meeting, Scippio raised concerns about half of the remaining Park and Recreation bond money going to one project. Scippio said she wanted to see the funds used to acquire land to build new parks. 

“We have annexed thousands of people into the city and they don’t have any services,” Scippio said. “So before we utilize all of our acquisition money, I think we should be prudent enough to look throughout the community and see where we’re going to need money to give those persons some services.”

Despite the concerns raised by Scippio, the motion to approve an additional $1 million for the project was approved unanimously. 

But it didn’t end there. 

When it came time for the full Council to approve the motion on Monday, Jan. 4, Scippio came forward with an alternate motion. “I would love for us to take time to evaluate this move using those funds in connection with all the other things that’s going on and needed in Parks and Recreation,” Scippio said. The alternate recommendation was to send the entire project back to the Community Development and Public Works Committees. 

Scippio’s alternate motion gained support from John Larson and Kevin Mundy, but the five remaining councilmembers voted against the alternate motion, including an “absolutely not” from Councilmember Taylor. 

Larson said he was in support of Scippio’s alternate motion because the original motion calls for moving funds already allocated for parks and recreation centers to a capital improvements project. “I’m not sure that’s exactly what the public had in mind when they allocated the funding,” he said. 

The original motion to approve funding passed 5-3. The motion received the nod from Taylor, Denise “DD” Adams, Barbara Burke, Robert Clark and Jeff MacIntosh. Although he didn’t vote, Mayor Allen Joines has also spoken in support of the Belview project. Last month Joines said the center, which was built in the 1970s, was in dire need of renovations and now is the time to do it. 

“It’s an old facility,” Joines continued,  “… and I think as we’re getting ready to renovate and add to it, now is the time to do it right. You only get one chance to do it right and it’s so much better to do it as we’re building it. It would cost double this amount if we had to go back and try to expand it later on.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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