The City of Charlestown hosted an informational meeting for residents of the Glendale neighborhood on Thursday, 10/11/2018. Following is a brief summary of the meeting. Full audio (50:52) is available at the end.
Mayor Hall began the evening by thanking those in attendance for their participation. He said he loves Glendale and wanted to put to rest any rumors that the City is attempting to take property in the community. He said that the meeting was not a negative meeting.
Mayor Hall gave a history of the neighborhood and noted that it comprises approximately 400 homes or 12% of the City’s population, most of which are brick construction. He said the city wants to support the neighborhood and help in the future. Glendale is the largest subdivision in Charlestown and is important to the overall city.
Looking to the future, Mayor Hall noted that his job is to look forward to investments for quality of life. As he looks at Glendale he is concerned about aging roads and guttering. Glendale is somewhat 80-90% owner occupied, not rental properties. He wants to keep that since he said renters are not as invested in the community as home owners.
Mayor Hall introduced other participants: Ben Ledbetter who was elected as Council Member in the previous election and now is Director of City Services, Rhonda Davidson who is Parks Director, John Spencer the Information Technology and Public Relations Director, Tony Jackson the Building Commissioner, Police Chief Keith McDonald, Shane Spicer who is the City Engineer, and current Council Members J.T. Cox and Mike Vaughn.
Ben Ledbetter spoke about the streets and curbs in the neighborhood. He noted that the streetscape project will enhance the view of the neighborhood by adding five-foot sidewalks, decorative street signs, decorative street lamps, decorative traffic sign posts, all that mirror what is currently placed on Market Street. He also anticipates neighborhood banners. (He presented a visual presentation for demonstration.)
Mayor Hall resumed and informed the group that the City has applied for two Community Crossings grants for Glendale and downtown improvements. He said that they are going to do these changes regardless of the awarding of the grants. He anticipates making these changes next year.
Quality of Place is a concern for the Mayor. As an administration he has committed to parks and activities. He introduced Parks Director Rhonda Davidson to speak about the parks.
Rhonda Davidson thanked everyone for coming to the meeting. She is celebrating 10 years working with Bob Hall on city parks and is happy that his goal is for families to have a place to play in town. In the neighborhoods the plan is to put a series of pocket parks. The goal is to have these small parks in every neighborhood. (She presented a visual display.) She turned it back over to Mayor Hall.
Mayor Hall said that Glendale will now be the only neighborhood that has two parks and they hope to put another pocket park in the area of the old drive-in theatre. If you want to have a meeting in the park, you can get a letter to reserve the park from Geri Heal in City Hall at no cost. He hopes that these improvements will keep home ownership high in Glendale. He introduced Police Chief McDonald to discuss public safety.
Chief McDonald has been serving for 20 years in Charlestown. He shared data of total crime for the community (Glendale experiences 4% of all City’s misdemeanors and felonies in the last three years). He invited everyone to attend the next Block Watch meeting on November 15. He has sent officers out to monitor stop signs and speeding in the area but will taper that patrol off and move to other areas for the time being but noted they will be back. He encouraged residents to be active and report issues to the police. He spoke about plans for better reporting of data.
People began to ask questions and make comments. Topics included speeding, speed bumps, and curfew laws.
Chief McDonald encouraged people to call if they’re experiencing problems and reminded them that they can make anonymous reports.
People asked questions and made comments about types of crime committed in the neighborhood. (audio sometimes difficult to hear)
There was some concern about sidewalks being unnecessary, taking up too much space in peoples’ yards, and impacting landscaping and yard features. Mayor Hall mentioned that schools are expanding walking areas and there is a need to get kids off of streets and onto sidewalks. Some concern was raised about the waste of money on putting sidewalks in areas where they are not needed. Mayor Hall assured people that work crews will meet with every homeowner individually to work through issues about yards and design like they’ve been doing on Monroe Street.
Mayor Hall opened up comments on sidewalks. Several people commented and asked for clarification about size because they heard both five feet and two feet during the meeting. Mayor Hall said he cannot give specific answers because it depends on the house. A resident asked if people would get paid for the land taken to build the sidewalks and Mayor Hall said no because there is an easement.
There was some concern over the features like speed bumps and sidewalks being unwanted. Some people expressed that they like the neighborhood the way it is and questioned the need to spend money on sidewalks since they will disrupt daily life as it is.
(Many people began speaking at once expressing different opinions. Please refer to audio.)
Mayor Hall assured them that people who are getting sidewalks now are happy.
Someone asked about how the easement is determined and Mayor Hall said the easements are usually 60 feet but can vary based on individual properties. There was some concern that the easements do not currently exist. Individual property owners can check with the courthouse to learn where the easements exist.
In response to the concerns being raised Mayor Hall said that in his time as mayor that no matter what what he does there will be a percentage of people who disagree. A comment was made that he should ask the community what they want rather than direct it on his own. An informal vote was taken. (Many people were talking at once. Please refer to audio.)
Sidewalks will be on both sides of the street. Someone asked if the project had already been approved and Mayor Hall confirmed that it has. There was concern expressed that the city should seek opinions first before making such decisions.
(Much of the end of the meeting became unclear as people became frustrated and Mayor Hall closed the meeting.)
Full audio here: