In Fayetteville, City Council Agenda Sessions are used to determine the agenda for the next week’s full City Council Meeting. The Parks and Recreation Department recommended that the lease that the city has with the University of Fayetteville for Lewis Park be terminated early by six months. The resolution was put as an item on the Consent Agenda as item number 7. For those that don’t know, consent items are all voted on at once. They were invented to save time in meetings so each individual resolution or ordinance doesn’t have to be voted on. Some councils have reported saving hours using consent agendas. Consent items are supposed to be routine resolutions where there isn’t any concern or conflict. If there is any concern or conflict members of the public or elected officials are able to move it to a regular business item.
In Fayetteville, the only people who are able to talk in an Agenda Session are staff and elected officials. Additionally, the only people able to move items from the consent section to the regular business section are council members and the Mayor. This is a little concerning because if the whole council is on board with something they could completely ignore the will of the people, put something on as a consent item, and then vote for it with out the public being able to even comment on the matter.
Mayor Jordan went through some other business and then he got to our resolution. He read the resolution, “2017-0624 University of Arkansas Joint Lease Agreement Termination: A Resolution to terminate the joint lease agreement between the City of Fayetteville and the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas for the City’s use of 27.5 acres on Lewis Avenue and the University’s use of the 10.02 acres on Razorback Road, contingent upon approval by the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas.”
Connie Edmonston, got up and talked about the Parks and Recreation Department’s thoughts on the matter and their thought process for terminating the lease six months early.
Another staff member got up and talked about how the city had originally wanted to end the lease in June of 2017, but it got extended to the end of the calendar year. He also mentioned that they knew that the piece of land was for sale, but that Mayor Jordan had instructed staff not to pursue purchasing the land.
The council talked for a bit and Councilman La Tour said that as there was a contingent of people who wanted to speak about the matter and he would let them.
Councilman Kinion wanted to stress that the item that would be discussed at the next meeting would be about ending the lease early and not if the city should buy the land. Mayor Jordan agreed that would be the focus of this debate.
The resolution was then moved from the Consent Agenda to the first item of the New Business section.
We need to continue to write and call our council members. Every day if possible. If you haven’t done it yet do it today.
I had heard that Mayor Jordan didn’t want to #SaveLewis before from several city staff and others in-the-know. This meeting confirmed it. I’m a little confused that someone who continually boasts about his environmental record and creation of parks and open space would care so little about the current threat to Lewis. I would like more clarification from him on this issue.
We need to stay on topic about the lease extension and not the purchase when we, as the public, get our chance to speak at the council meeting on November 21.
Show up to the council meeting on November 21 at 5:30 in room 219. Its at the top of the stairs in City Hall.
You can watch the video of the agenda session at http://accessfayetteville.granicus.com/… the item for Lewis starts around 5:11 and runs to 10:37.