City Council Meeting 7/27/2021

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In tonight’s Game of Thrones Council meeting, mowing contracts abounded (but are we being told everything?), Mayor Ella Jones silenced Toni Burrows, Phedra Nelson referred to Linda Lipka with “she does make you laugh,” tensions over boards and committees flared again, history was rewritten, all as the council moved to go into yet another closed session. Oh, and the pool will have its season extended (weekends and Labor Day holiday only). Let’s review the highlights:

Frank McCall was pinned and sworn in as Chief of Police. He proceeded to read several pages worth of statistics mostly focused on incidents from January 1st to date in comparison to last year. (Heather Robinett requested they be placed on the website for better accessibility and easier review.) Roughly, the FPD performs two traffic stops a day.

COVID infections are high, and vaccinations are strongly encouraged for everyone 12 years and older. The city is complying with the county’s face mask mandate in all public buildings.

Head of Public Works, Don Boyce, introduced the new supervisor for code enforcement, Gene. He is new to the area but has extensive experience in code enforcement in multiple cities and has also served as a police officer.

Chief Hampton spoke on efforts to allow Public Works and Parks to better individually focus on their individual tasks and move back from being “mashed” together due to staffing shortages now that new staff is coming on board.

Don Boyce explained the new approach to grass cutting after going back and looking at the bids for nuisance properties. They have found that Walter Knoll Florist, the company awarded the contract for mowing and cleanup, has had staffing issues. In order to address the need for additional work staff has recommended a second contract to Palmer Residential.

The city has been short four staff in Public Works for Parks maintenance. By having a separate park mowing contract this frees up staff to focus on other work.

Fran Griffin spoke at length about the extra mulch left at one of the parks that was not yet being used, and then spoke about the city’s program for redevelopment of residential homes and raised several questions about the list for demolition and how developers can be found to be reliable for completing the work if they don’t follow through on developing homes they said they wanted. Additional note from Nick Kasoff: The property in question is 7454 Castro. A good section of the front of the house is missing, and it is my opinion that you could not rehab this house for three times its market value. Mr. Hampton has looked at the house personally, agreed with my assessment, and is working toward getting it demolished.

Toni Burrow asked Mayor Jones if she was not using the “raised hands” to recognize those trying to speak as she had hers up for some time without being recognized. Ella responded that she had Phedra and Naquittia with her and could see them trying to get in [perhaps not apparent on zoom view?] However, the mayor announced, “We are pressed for time,” and refused to recognize Burrows as speaker.

Chief Hampton assured the council that the restoration program has not yet given houses out to developers at all yet.

Dave Musgrave gave an update that the competition pool has been open a little over a week now and the entire complex is operating. The one thing they are still waiting for is to receive the correct diving board. The contractor ordered the wrong one, and the replacement is now on backorder. It will probably be the end of the season before it is in place. The season will be extended beyond August 22nd original closing date. It will be open weekends and on the Labor Day Holiday, Monday September 6th.

Public Hearing for amending zoning regulations on pole signs and low monument signs was held.

Board and commission appointments were started. Mayor Jones stated that three people were added to traffic commission and at this point they can make a quorum. Lipka responded that they do not have enough to make a quorum and Jones responded that they will talk about that later. The last vacancy on the Economic Development Sales Tax (EDST) board was made by Jones. Burrow reminded Jones of her handshake deal to have Burrow make nominations to the council for EDST members. After a brief argument, council moved on to vote for approval of Nina Marie Thompson to the EDST board in a 4-3 vote, with Robinett, Burrow, and Lipka voting nay.

Liquor license renewal are up for Just Chicken, A1 Package and Liquor, Ferguson Brewing Co., Mimi’s Bar & Grill and R&R Mini Mart and all have submitted documentation.

A proclamation was made to announce the previous day was Michael P. McMillan Day in a resolution which included the honoree’s name misspelled. McMillan, President and CEO of the St. Louis Urban League, has been key to the building of the Ferguson Empowerment Center on West Florissant and founded the Save Our Sons program.

Resolutions were passed for: authorized signers for the UMB bank account, approval for interim City Manager to sign a parks grant proposal, a contract with Loyet Landscape for mowing of the parks, a contract with Palmer Residential Service for nuisance and grass cutting services, and for additional revenue amending the city budget.

A second reading for a bill authorizing deeds to be transferred to the city for seven properties was read. This includes one property (533 Suburban) intended to be used as an additional access point to Dade Park, and for six properties expected to be redeveloped through the city’s new program. Those properties are:

333 Roberta Ave.

434 Jean Ave.

601 Ruggles Rd.

604 Tiffin Ave.

6161 Dupree Ave.

728 Ruggles Rd.