Council majority planning third rec center

During the last year, Council has voted to allocate $3M for new recreation centers. Monday night they voted 5-2 to lease land where they plan to build another recreation center. Pictured above is the site for the District 1 complex coming to Highway 21 in Ridgeway. | Contributed

WINNSBORO – Mitford’s community center averages one to three people a day.

Monticello’s averages three to five. Nobody visited either center at all in November.

With $3M already earmarked for three rec centers in the county, council wants to spend more taxpayer money on parks and recreation.

On Monday, council voted 5-2 to lease 8.12 acres in the North Monticello and Ladd Road area from Dominion Energy for another recreation center.

Council members Doug Pauley and Clarence Gilbert opposed.

“I ask this council to open your eyes and see what is needed for Fairfield County and its citizens, and not what is wanted by you for political reasons,” Pauley said.

While the cost of the lease is only $5 annually, per the lease, Fairfield County must purchase several insurance policies to cover the property. Those policies are valued at $3 million, documents state.

The county is also responsible for costs associated with adding any libraries, playground equipment or other amenities, the costs of which have yet to be determined.

Pauley said the lease vote represents another instance of the council majority building projects for campaign purposes and putting them above what the county really needs. He rattled off a laundry list of those needs.

He said the daily operating budget of the public works department was cut by 50 percent, yet the employees in that department have to do daily operations and make repairs to five county bridges that are out.

“That department lacks adequate gravel, piping and other materials to maintain county roads,” Pauley said.

“The Sheriff’s office and fire service must make do with antiquated vehicles. And what about the rising cost of gas for these vehicles?” he asked.

“Fire service has been asking for tankers for three years,” Pauley said. “They have two with over 35 years on them. One of them caught fire while responding to a fire recently and another has a transmission problem. If the ISO came tomorrow and a tanker was not at a station, it would not qualify as a station.

“We’ve needed a fire marshal for two years and we need four firefighters,” he said.

“EMS needs three ambulances, and three of the ones they have, have over 350 miles. We have cut on-the-road paramedics who provide life-saving support,” Pauley continued.

“We don’t even have a full time director to manage all these [recreation] facilities because we can’t afford to hire them,” he said.

Without responding to Pauley’s statement, Council Chairman Moses Bell called for the vote which was 5-2.

Later on, Bell once again took aim at the Mt. Zion contract, the subject of an unrelated agenda item following the lease vote.

“The reason we have to spend all this money is the disastrous contract. Even lawyers advised us not to get into this contract,” Bell said, without identifying the lawyers or the circumstance.

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