By David Skolnick
The city plans to demolish the dilapidated concrete bleachers at the South High Fieldhouse football field, the location of a brazen murder in 2006 during a youth football game.
Also, council voted Wednesday to uphold Mayor Charles Sammarone’s decision to remove Terri Bryant from the city’s park and recreation commission for “gross neglect of duty.”
City council voted 7-0 Wednesday to authorize the board of control to enter into a contract with the lowest and best bidder to demolish the bleachers.
“It’s a tremendous hazard and a safety issue,” said Robert Burke, the city’s park and recreation director, said of the concrete bleachers.
The demolition of the bleachers should be done by the fall, said Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public works department.
“They are a safety hazard and need to be torn down,” said Anthony Spano, chairman of the park and recreation commission. “We hope to do more of this type of work after our park master plan is done in the coming months.”
Metal bleachers at the football field, off of Market Street on the city’s South Side, will remain.
The field’s bleachers was the location of an Aug. 19, 2006, murder in which Anthony Caulton shot to death Larry D. Jones during a pee-wee football game in front of hundreds of spectators.
A judge commented in August 2009, when he sentenced Caulton to 18 years to life, that it was a “sad comment” that only two people came forward as witnesses against the murderer.
Also Wednesday, city council voted 6-1 to confirm Sammarone’s decision to remove Bryant from the park and recreation commission.
Nate Pinkard, D-3rd, was the only member to oppose the mayor’s decision.
Bryant hasn’t attended a commission meeting since Nov. 27, 2012.
“You must attend meetings,” Sammarone said. “If you can’t, don’t accept the position.”
Bryant and Nancy Walker-McCain, the commission’s vice chairwoman, said the issue isn’t cut and dry.
Bryant’s mother died the day before the commission’s December 2012 meeting, there wasn’t a meeting in March, and a meeting in April was rescheduled to a date Bryant couldn’t attend, they said.
She was going to attend the commission’s next meeting Saturday.
“It is an unfair, untrue and unjustified statement about me,” said Bryant, appointed in July 2011 by then-Mayor Jay Williams to a term that was to expire Dec. 31, 2015. “I’ve been a dedicated commission member. I had to take a short hiatus to bury my mother and take care of her affairs.”
Bryant said Sammarone “had a vendetta” against her because she strongly opposed the mayor’s plan to sell the South High Fieldhouse for $100 to the Southside Academy charter school next to the athletic facility.
Sammarone said that isn’t true, and the academy decided not to buy the property.
“I don’t know why this occurred,” said Walker-McCain. “I don’t feel due process was given. She was not given the chance to explain what happened. It leaves me disenchanted and it’s really disheartening. Everyone was aware of her mother expiring. People grieve in different ways. Ms. Bryant fulfilled her duties.”
Law Director Anthony Farris said, “At a minimum, you have to come to meetings. We’re not attacking her, but if you can’t come to the meetings, you should resign.”
Also Wednesday, council agreed to increase the estimated cost of a new South Side fire station from $780,000 to $920,000 after eight proposals last month for the work ranged from $933,000 to $1,100,200. The city made reductions to the project.
Council also approved legislation to seek $250,000 from the federal government for a study for an economic plan. The city has spent $1,117,000 on studies since 2005 with most of the recommendations from those reports not implemented.