Veterans seek park site land clarification

After an evident misunderstanding, two representatives of county military veteran organizations sought clarification on the status of land designated for honoring veterans in the city of Oneonta. Some members of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and American Legion had begun preliminary cleanup on the U.S. 231 South site which once held the city’s swimming pool. City officials had asked the men to cease work until title for the property could be conveyed from the city.

Oneonta Mayor Ross Norris invited representatives to speak to the council of their concerns at its latest session. Gary Clements, commander of the local American Legion, began by apologizing for the miscue and asking what was necessary for the park committee to obtain the land title.

Norris expressed the city’s concern over any liability it might face for someone injured on the property while it remains municipal land. City attorney Alex Smith explained that the city had agreed in 2009 to deed the land to a named entity with two stipulations. This group bears another name, which Smith noted is not a real problem.

Smith reiterated the stipulations: 1) if the group ever dissolved, the land would revert to the city and 2) the property could not be used as collateral for any loan. He said the city is awaiting the formalization of the committee and expressed his willingness to meet with DAV commander and committee chair Frank Cannon the next day to work further toward the transfer. Approaching the microphone, Cannon noted the memorial, projected at a cost of $350,000 in 2009, will never be completed as it will serve to remember all veterans not just battled-killed. The men explained that inflation and changes to the 2009 plans have increased likely costs. They hope to obtain grants and some donated work and materials to reduce the cash requirements.

Near the close of the regular session, Councilman Danny Robinson invited veterans in attendance to introduce themselves and share service information.

The council hired Brent Bender, William Joe Franklin, Jerry Hughes, and Matthew Smith as part-time police officers. Members also agreed to purchase a bush hog for $8,150, funded from road maintenance revenue rather than capital outlay, for public works. At the past session’s financial review hearing, public safety director – administrator Brandon Horton had advised that the city had already exceeded its capital outlay funds for the fiscal year.

Public works director Roland McCoy reported on the removal of advertisements placed on city stop signs. He cited city sign regulations forbidding such and indicated the offender had removed the signs, attached by plastic ties, after he had been advised of the prohibition.

McCoy also advised the council of his department’s return to once-a-week trash/brush pick up within the four established city districts. He warned that trash and brush must be placed in separate piles in order to qualify for pick up.

Councilman Nathaniel Butler missed the July 11 meeting. Councilors Hal Blackwood, Richard Phillips, and Tonya Rogers joined Norris and Robinson for the session. The council holds its regular meetings the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.