The Public Expresses Itself
Speakers: Martha Dendy still in question, Lydia Mill ‘forgotten’ and respect needed.
A local businessman said July 1 his family “will not compete” for the right to develop the former Martha Dendy School into a community center and events venue.
Trevor Dendy spoke on behalf of his father, Young Dendy, saying that a proposed land swap between his dad and the city involving property at the Hwy 56 recreation complex is a perfectly legitimate arrangement.
Others have objected to the arrangement, saying it violates the city’s promise to stay involved with the closed school property all the way through to the end result - a publicly funded, neighborhood community center.
“Now, we find that we have to compete for the school,” Trevor Dendy said. “We have been threatened because of our talks with the city.”
Before Dendy spoke to the Clinton City Council, Costell Little said with regard to Martha Dendy, “The city has cut us out.”
He spoke on behalf of a long-standing community group interested in preserving Martha Dendy School and the former Bell St. Middle School (formerly predominately African-America Bell St. High School) as heritage and community-enhancement centers.
City Manager Bill Ed Cannon said several groups have expressed interest now in developing Martha Dendy. He urged council members, or their designees, to meet with all groups in late July and early August, before the city moves forward.
“The city has said it does not have the money nor the personnel for a community center in Martha Dendy,” Trevor Dendy said. “I find myself explaining, again, my father’s interest in the Martha Dendy property.
“In contrast to what I read in the newspaper, we do need another basketball court. And a swimming pool, and a splash pad. I would bring up ethics, discrimination and bad business, but I won’t. We are not interested in competing with anybody, especially in a business arrangement.”
He said his father has been maligned in the community center debate - Trevor Dendy said Young Dendy has contributed to many organizations including the YMCA and Presbyterian College, he has supported the community garden, and he has put his children through college.
Trevor Dendy said, “The private sector is able to complete tasks faster and more efficiently than the public sector.”
The building was deeded to the City of Clinton by School District 56. A swimming pool there was demolished and filled in by the city. A basketball court has been constructed there, and the park has hosted National Night Out. The building, though, is vacant and has been vandalized.
The city has budgeted no money for the Martha Dendy School; however, a $20,000 TD Bank Green Spaces grant will fund landscaping there to be installed this summer.
Council also heard from Lydia Mill resident Sherri Amick. “My concern is for the area across from the park; people are stealing power, they come out when it’s dark and use foul language. We are forgotten, nothing is being done. Someone broke a pane of glass in my yard and said they were coming back to pick it up, but it’s still there. There is a lot of drugs.”
The evening’s first speaker, retired businessman Ashton Barrington, appealed to the council and the July 1 meeting audience for a civil discussion. “I like the way we start these meetings. We say a prayer. We invite God’s Spirit - let’s honor it.”
Barrington said people should expect to come before council with opinions without cat-calls and noises from the audience. “We should not mock them,” he said. “I won’t always agree with you, but we can use our voice without acting like school kids. Let’s make this a great town.”
(The Clinton City Council meets the first Monday of each month, 6 pm in the PS Bailey City Council Chamber, of the MS Bailey Municipal Center, 211 North Broad St., Clinton. A time to recognize citizens registered to address council is set aside at each meeting (Item O on the July 1 agenda); register before the meeting starts at the clerk to council table. These meetings are open to the public under provisions of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, with 2018 amendments.)