The City Council did conduct some business on Tuesday night, May 2, before fleeing the Council Chambers to get away from a disruptive audience.
After calling the meeting to order, Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that the council was going to reverse the order of the agenda and finish the short business agenda before the public comment period. Normally the public comment period is held after ceremonial resolutions and before the business agenda, but with 23 people signed up to speak, and a short agenda, it made sense to reverse the order.
The main item on the agenda was to enter into a Downtown Development Agreement with CHI Greensboro LLC, to design and build a public-private parking deck of about 1,050 spaces at the southwest corner of Bellemeade and North Eugene streets on property owned by the Carroll Companies, which also owns this newspaper.
The site is across Bellemeade from the First National Bank Field baseball stadium and catty-corner from the Carroll at Bellemeade hotel and apartment complex currently under construction by the Carroll Companies.
Roy Carroll had earlier announced an intention to build a multistory mixed use building on that site, which would include a parking deck, but no announcement was made about the plans for the site other than to allow the city to negotiate a contract to design and build a parking facility.
The council agenda notes that there are future plans to build a 15- to 20-story mixed-use facility on top of the parking structure, which would include a hotel that would lease up to 450 parking spaces.
It also states that there are plans for a 100,000-square-foot office building adjacent to the parking structure, which would lease up to 350 parking spaces.
This agreement is similar to the agreement the council approved several weeks ago to enter a public-private partnership to build a parking facility that will stretch from East Market Street along Davie Street and go over February 1 Place and will have a Westin Hotel built on top of it.
One major difference in the two agreements is that in this one the city is not required to purchase land for the parking deck, while for the parking deck on East Market, having the city purchase the land was part of the agreement.
The City Council meeting ended with Vaughan ordering the Council Chambers cleared of the public while the council went into a recess, except that it didn’t actually vote to recess, so technically the City Council left the Council Chambers and then, after the Council Chambers were cleared of everyone, the City Council snuck back into their seats long enough to adjourn the meeting.
Councilmembers didn’t have the opportunity to make comments at the end of the meeting in accordance with the agenda, so after the council meeting, Councilmember Mike Barber sent an email to City Manager Jim Westmoreland asking that a budget be prepared that includes a 6 percent to 10 percent salary increase for police officers by Tuesday, May 9.
Westmoreland is scheduled to present his budget to the council on Tuesday, May 18. In the past, this City Council has accepted Westmoreland’s budget, made tweaks of a few hundred thousand dollars and then approved it.
In the world of the current City Council, to ask for a 6 percent to 10 percent raise for police officers is a great departure from the way things have been done.
Barber in his email states, “Today, there is a disincentive to enter law enforcement, while the demand according to experts has increased exponentially. This, coupled with the increase in violence and property crimes, makes it imperative that we act in the current budget.”
Barber notes that it is more difficult to find qualified recruits and that the Greensboro Police Department is losing officers it has trained to nearby communities where the pay is equal or greater than what is offered in Greensboro.
Barber also states, “A significant salary increase will show our commitment to our law enforcement officers, leadership, and employees and show the community that we have not lost sight of the number one goal of every community – public safety. It will positively impact a damaged morale, and mitigate the damage done by our inability to properly limit the harm done by a few who instigate and create factless and baseless issues.”
Barber said that the Tuesday night meeting was just one example of the City Council allowing people to beat up on the Police Department.