IEDC members disagree, Little resigns Monday

The Italy Economic Development Corporation meeting ended in a heated discussion Monday evening between Mark Stiles, president, and Tom Little regarding signage at the city’s new pavilion. The discussion ended with Little tendering his resignation from the IEDC.

Little complained about the lack of signage at the Boze Community Center and the pavilion. His comments were about the “plain” look of the pavilions exterior.

Stiles reminded Little that he had repeatedly voted against any exterior embellishments on the building during construction plans. Stiles said they gave in to him then and asked why he was now changing his tune.

Much of the evening was spent with members disagreeing about which grant writer to talk with to whether they should build a walking trail or add playground equipment at Upchurch Park.

Charles Hyles had discussed the possibility of adding playground equipment and a walking track around the park at last month’s meeting. He came back to this meeting and talked about his discussion with a grant writer from Tim Glendenning Associates.

Elmerine Bell said a grant writer from Grant Works had been the city’s grant writer and thought he still was.

Mayor Frank Jackson said the grant writer Bell was discussing had failed to provide the grants and had pulled out.

Bell continued to stress the fact that the city had just “dropped” the grant writer from Grant Works.

Hyles said he didn’t care who the grant writer was but said there were not many options available, especially with economic and government issues.

He said there is $113,000 in the IEDC money market account. He said the playground equipment and the walking track could both be put in without a grant for less than $100,000.

Bell and Little both said they thought the idea of a walking track was a good idea but didn’t agree with the purchase of playground equipment.

Hyles said he had children and felt like the playground equipment was most important.

He presented two proposals for equipment – one from PlayWorld for $30,680 and one from Craftsman for $42,000. Installation and shipping would cost an additional $15,000.

Hyles again mentioned the money market account and Stiles told him that some of that money needed to be used for economic development, something that would help bring jobs to the community. Stiles also said the former furniture store would eventually need to be demolished, which would cost money.

“You don’t have small children, I do.” Hyles said. “A park and walking track would attract young couples to the community.” He said the IEDC could spend the money on the equipment and track this year and not spend a dime next year.

Little said he was tired of doing things for the kids and asked when they were going to think about the adults who could benefit from the walking track.

Stiles said the community needed quality schools, water and streets to attract young couples.

Hyles and Stiles also exchanged words regarding the type of material they would use to construct the track. Hyles said he got an estimate for $44,335 for a seven-foot wide concrete track.

Bell said she supported a track but said there are other things in the community that need addressing rather than building a playground. She said the city’s history is deteriorating as items sit in the church on Poplar Street that was donated to the city for a museum. She said there are too many other areas where the IEDC could use money.

Hyles said the museum is not going to bring young families into town.

Stiles said that each of the members brought solid points but said there was not enough money to go around. As the meeting wound down, Stiles said each member should put their proposals/requests on the agenda for next month when they could vote on the various issues.

That was the point when Little complained about the lack of signage and the meeting ended abruptly.