New home for street department

by Sarah Melton

The Mount Holly City Council approved a temporary housing solution for the city’s Street & Solid Waste Department at its Monday, Feb. 8, meeting.

The issue originally came up at the council’s retreat earlier this month. Mike Santmire, director of the city’s Street & Solid Waste Department, said that he and staff have worked out of the current facility for the past 12 years.

Significant changes have been made to the building over the years, but the city’s construction committee took a recent tour and concerns arose. Sections of the building that have been deemed unsafe or not useable have been blocked.

The committee found that the main employee restroom was without heat, fuel was being kept in an unvented storage room and the storage building’s roof needed repairs. Also, asbestos tiles, broken and whole, outside of the restroom were coming unglued from the floor and being stacked in a corner.

“But first of all, let us remember the building was built in 1924, renovated in 1965 and at that time, building codes were less stringent,” Santmire stated in a memorandum to council members and Town Manager Danny Jackson. “We have not spent significant funds in its up fit due mostly to the fact we planned on moving to a new location in the future.”

On Monday, Santimare presented several repair options to the city council, but the members unanimously approved the fourth option, estimated to cost $9,341. Councilman Jim Hope, who is also chairman of the construction committee, said that the issues at the Street & Solid Waste Department needed to be addressed as soon as possible.

“What we’ve got to go by is what (Santmire) said as the department head and what we saw as the committee,” he said. “It’s out of mind, out of sight, but to me, as a council person, I’ve talked about this for 12 years. I have done an injustice to the employees down there. They don’t have what they need to maintain themselves.”

The council approved leasing two office trailers with restrooms for a monthly cost of $180, or $2,160 annually; set up, tear down and freight, $1,181; and reroof and vent the storage buildings, $6,000. The city would also be required to plumb water and sewer systems, have Duke Energy set up a temporary power pole at the trailers for air-conditioning and lights and install telephone lines and computer hook-ups, bringing the total cost to $9,341.

“I think we talked about at our retreat having suitable working conditions for our employees and these employees don’t deserve any less,” said Mayor Bryan Hough. “I think we should move forward as quickly as we can. I hate to see us analyze this too much longer before we give them the working conditions they need.”

Councilman Jerry Bishop asked the construction committee to research how much it would cost to build a temporary facility on site. “It is sure to be a cost-saving measure, as far as I’m concerned, if we can construct right away instead of finding a temporary spot,” he said.

Citizens Center renamed

The council also approved renaming the Citizens Center to the Mount Holly Municipal Complex to reflect all of the many activities that occur in the building. The city houses many of its departments in the building and organizations often rent the building for events and weddings.

Councilman Perry Toomey suggested advertising the name change in the city’s newsletter to get feedback from the community. “I think that would be the appropriate thing to do,” he said.

However, the council unanimously approved renaming the facility without gaining input from the residents.

Mayor’s term may be extended

The council called for a public hearing March 14 to consider amending the city’s charter to reflect a four-year term for the mayor’s position. The mayor currently serves a two-year term.

Hope said that the council would discuss the change after the public hearing was held. “I think we have more effect on our citizens with the public hearing than any other way,” he said.

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