City Council Is Asked:
With the pool gone, what’s next for M. Dendy community recreation
The City of Clinton has turned a closed-down community swimming pool into flat dirt and piles of concrete waiting to be hauled off. One community activist asked Monday night what – if anything – will be the Martha Dendy pool’s replacement in an underserved area of Clinton.
City Council heard an impassioned plea from Ricky Martin to replace the pool – deemed too broken to be repaired, economically – with a revamped Martha Dendy Community Center. District 56 deeded what used to be the Martha Dendy Sixth Grade Center to the city and, since then, the building has been shuttered. A National Night Out was held on the community center’s grounds, but the building was not open to the public.
The former pool’s deep end was filled with water, and its fence was unlocked, the city council was told, and that constituted a safety hazard to people in the community, especially curious children. Martin said the building is going to waste. “A lot of constructive things could be going on,” he said.
“We got rid of the swimming pool,” City Manager Bill Ed Cannon said. He asked Martin to be patient – there are plans being developed for the Martha Dendy Center and perhaps other areas of the city where “splash pads” could be placed, Cannon said.
“We have plans,” Martin said. “That’s just more plans. Our tax money is not being diverted in a way I see it needs to be going.” Martin spoke during the public comments portion of Monday night’s Clinton City Council meeting; the normal first Monday meeting date was changed because of the Fourth of July.
Cannon said the city has money that can be spent only on recreation. The next step, he said, is to get the Martha Dendy community together to determine what people want on the former school site. “The building’s just sitting. No one has been arrested for vandalism, people just take what they want,” Martin said.
“Martha Dendy should be purposed, it will be purposed,” Cannon said. “We need people who live over there to take possession of the school. It’s time.”
Cannon said in action similar to tearing up and covering with dirt the Martha Dendy pool, the city has made substantial progress in tearing down dilapidated structures. This work is being done with city labor, rather than contractors. Mayor Bob McLean said this way, the city has gotten rid of 25 eyesores for the same cost as two deconstructions by contractors.
Cannon said, “We have momentum, let’s keep it going.”
In other business, the city council authorized moving $312,199.03 from the city’s economic development fund to the Clinton Economic Development Corporation’s restricted speculative building account. This will allow the CEDC to make the initial repayment to a $3.2 million Santee Cooper loan that will construct a 60,000 sq ft building (on a 100,000 sq ft pad) at the I-26 Commerce Center. It will be the city’s second spec building just off I-26.
“Several people have expressed interest in the building,” Cannon said.
The council approved Cannon’s recommendation not to spend $68,194 for two Clinton signs on I-26 at Hwy 72.
Cannon said the city had a firm price of less than that, but the contractor charged more to make up for a 10% U.S. tariff on steel and aluminum. Cannon said in his experience as an engineer, he had never seen a business practice like that; “we need to re-bid the project,” he said.
Council agreed, adding that new language in the sign construction contract should make it plain that artwork submitted by the City of Clinton for the signs will be the city’s property, not the property of the company designing and erecting the signs. Language can be added allowing the contractor to use images of the signs in advertisements touting the company’s work, the council was told.
Council spent an hour in closed session discussing three real estate contracts, and took no action in open session.