PARKERSBURG -City council members unanimously approved the closure of two alleys near Seventh Street to allow for redevelopment of two existing car lots.
But not before Mayor Bob Newell refuted the claims of city council member Sharyn Tallman that political favors were attached to the selection of paving projects.
Newell delivered a nearly 10-minute executive message to council Tuesday refuting Tallman's claims paving projects were politically motivated. While little was said during the meeting, Tallman didn't back off her accusations afterward.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Parkersburg City Council member Sharyn Tallman asks questions at Tuesday's council meeting about a map which shows streets and alleys to be paved on Seventh Street.
"It wasn't a lie," she said.
At the last council meeting Tallman, who is running for mayor, accused Newell, who was out of town, of currying political favor in choosing paving projects.
In his message Tuesday, Newell didn't identify Tallman by name, but labeled her accusation "inexcusable." He also chastised her for calling the residents of Washington Avenue's attendance at a committee meeting a "dog and pony show."
Newell said the McCays and the residents of Washington Avenue deserve an apology.
Tallman noted the Washington Avenue project was on the city's paving list. City officials put the project into its paving contract to see what price it could get on the projects.
The city allocated $650,000 to paving and had a paving contract for about $730,000. The contract included the now-dead Washington Avenue project.
Officials then went to council to see about expending additional funds for those projects, including a section of Washington Avenue.
The project was approved by the Public Works Committee, of which Tallman is a member. However, when the matter came before the full council for consideration it died for lack of a second. Newell said the project would be removed from the paving list.
Tallman had the opportunity to discuss the issue then, but she- and everyone else on council-passed on seconding the motion to fund the Washington Avenue project, thereby allowing discussion.
Tallman claims the project was approved when it was put on paper for pricing by the city. She denied any responsibility for scuttling the project.
"Why am I being asked to approve this when it was on a piece of paper two months ago?" Tallman asked Tuesday.
The Republican mayoral candidate didn't back down from her claims Tuesday.
"I have the papers where they gave to his campaign," she said producing copies of Newell's campaign finance disclosures.
Pointing to Todd McCay's name: "There it is in black and white," she said.
McCay is owner of the City Perk, whose parking lot sits along an alley that was paved. McCay was contacted by the News and Sentinel last month and denied Tallman's claims. McCay said he had no idea the alley was even being paved.
Tuesday, Newell told council members his wife and "Mrs. McCay" worked together at Worthington School for several years.
"She is a well-respected professional and the McCays deserve a sincere apology for those remarks."
In his address to council Tuesday Newell said he asked streets in the motor center be picked because car dealerships are investing millions of dollars into new showrooms and expansions.
Numerous dealers along Seventh Street have redeveloped their dealerships with new showrooms.
Two more are following suit.
Council unanimously approved two ordinances on first reading to abandon a pair of alleys off Seventh Street. The abandonments will allow Larry Simmons Honda, Mazda, Volkswagen and Astorg Auto to redevelop their lots and erect new showrooms.
"It is important that we support businesses, which are our tax base," Newell said.
Prior to the vote, Tallman asked for a clarification on which alleys were being abandoned, as opposed to the one being paved behind the Coca-Cola plant.
After the meeting Tallman said council members were told they could not pave alleys. She wondered why that was being done.
In his address, the mayor laid out reasons behind the move from council-picked paving projects to the Micropaver program. He said allowing city council members to pick paving projects leads to politics.
"Allowing city council members to pick projects always leads to playing politics among some members," he said.
"Politics should be kept out of it," Tallman said. "But he controls the paving projects."