City backs off land grant

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lewisburg's City Council has backed away from a gift of land; a small parcel next to the Veterans of Foreign Wars building at Church Street and Rock Creek.

Councilmen voted in November to accept the land from Ernest C. Henegar Jr. of Hull Avenue after he'd concluded VFW Post 5109 didn't want the land because its leaders hadn't responded to his offer about a year earlier.

However, after the vote, Post Commander Hundley Ford Sr. said the veterans would like the property. After the meeting, city officials were asked if transferring the land to the VFW would require more work and expense since it would have to be declared surplus property and bids would have to be called, received and opened.

Faced with that situation, Councilman Ronald McRady indicated that the Council might rescind its vote on Nov. 10. On Dec. 8, McRady said the council voted without knowing the VFW wanted he land.

Henegar "is agreeable to us rescinding and then give the land to the VFW," McRady reported.

The councilman then moved to rescind the Nov. 10 vote and the Council unanimously agreed.

As of Sunday, Ford hadn't spoken with Henegar, but the post commander said he knew of the vote on Dec. 8 but had taken no action to avoid mistakes.

The post has no plans for the property except to use it for more parking.

"You can't build anything on it," he said. "Over there when we have special things at the Post, there's not enough parking."

Also at the Dec. 8 meeting, Mayor Barbara Woods spoke up about a decision on Nov. 10 to have members of the Council referred to as "councilmen" instead of "councilors" as recommended by McRady who said the newly re-sanctioned reference is consistent with the city Charter.

"I asked for a ruling by Ronald Darden of MTAS," Woods said of the long-time employee of the Municipal Technical Assistance Service in the University of Tennessee's Institute for Public Service.

"Recognition of members is a prerogative of the chair," Darden said, using the gender-neutral word for someone who leads meetings.

Addressing members of a council by their last name and courtesy title such as Mr. or Mrs. might be a way to avoid disrespect, the MTAS employee said.

McRady remained adamant that members of the council should all be called councilman.

Other comments on the matter that evening included the observations on women's suffrage.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1920, thereby giving women the right to vote in this country. Tennessee was the last state to ratify the amendment. There was a great deal of political lobbying at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville where suffragettes established headquarters for their campaign. The hotel is across the street from Legislative Plaza.