I was shocked and very disappointed to read the August 29 edition of the Clinton Herald stating that the Clinton City Council has scheduled a public hearing on September 10 to sell a portion of Riverview Park property to a Cedar Falls company called Merge for commercial/residential property development.
There are numerous riverfront sites in Clinton suitable for commercial/residential development without placing Riverview Park property on the auction block.
The city council voted unanimously on August 27 to set a public hearing. It seems to me that city hall cannot cancel a public hearing just by sending out a press release from the city administrator, or anyone else. The only party that can void or stop the public hearing from occurring on September 10 would be the Clinton City Council at an official city council meeting.
The City Attorney is the official parliamentarian for the rules of city council meetings. The question should be posed to the City Attorney regarding what options are available to stop or remove the public hearing from the September 10 council agenda.
Could the councilmember who made the motion at the August 27 meeting to hold the public hearing make a motion at the September 10 meeting to withdraw his/her motion to hold the public hearing? If so, a yes vote by the council to withdraw the motion would end the need for the public hearing on September 10.
Other questions to consider are why did the Mayor and the Clinton City Council even allow this item on the agenda? Why was the request to purchase Riverview Park property not processed through the Parks and Recreation Committee first and then sent to the City Planning Commission as it should have been? Hopefully, this idea would have died in committee.
Council members need to rivet the city administrator and city staff as to why this item did not go to these committees. This is a serious step in good governmental practices that was deliberately bypassed. Thus, we have a public relations nightmare and numerous residents in the community that are very upset with local elected officials over a very bad idea. It will be interesting to see what type of dance is performed at city hall in the next few weeks to correct this mess.
Folks, Clinton has a host of problems to deal with, including a large amount of lost jobs, declining population, high taxes and fees, an extremely low per capita income, a huge amount of empty and boarded up houses, a significant loss of retail sales, and a $25 million Industrial Rail Park that’s empty. Selling Riverview Park does not seem like a logical answer to our community's problems. Kind of like selling the municipal dock.
Unfortunately, there is no well thought out vision or strategic plan in place to deal with any of the problems I mentioned. The city website shows a 2016 Strategic Plan that was actually created in 2014 and it’s doubtful as to when it was last reviewed by the city council.
The city council needs to focus on the big issues facing our community. What exact type of plan is in place to improve the future of our community? With other riverfront sites available, selling Riverview Park smacks of economic development desperation. Meanwhile, I am sure folks can hardly wait for Merge officials to arrive on the scene and educate the residents of Clinton on the benefits of selling their local parks.