Tension flares with S'ville council members at a meeting on armory bldg

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Tensions were high on Tuesday night in Summerville during a town council meeting designed to let residents voice opinions about renovations to the town’s old armory building.

After a presentation on the status of the armory project from Doyle Best, the town’s parks and recreation director and the person appointed to head the armory renovation, Mayor Wiley Johnson asked Best several specific questions about the intended uses of the new facility.

During his questions, Councilmember Bob Jackson interjected, asking Mayor Johnson to let the public voice their opinions, as the initial meeting schedule allowed.

“This is a public hearing,” Jackson said. “This is not our work zone.”

In response, Mayor Johnson said it was important for people to hear what the plans are for the new facility.

“Some people only want to show up once a month to vote on things up and down, but I think it’s more important for the elected members of the council to get involved,” Johnson said.

The tension seen during town council Tuesday night comes nearly four months after Live 5 News obtained emails showing a spat between Mayor Johnson, Town Administrator Colin Martin and Councilman Bill McIntosh.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, people were invited to offer public comment about what they wanted to see the renovated armory used for.

Opinions from people were mixed—some asked to see more consideration for arts programs put into the design of the new armory space, while others offered thanks for current plans to provide a space for basketball and volleyball courts.

“Staging, lighting, good sound, audio for performances, whether it be recitals or dances,” attendee Sandy Liberstein said.

Along with offering sports facilities, the new facility is also expected to serve as a space for large events.

The town has also renamed the building as the Rollins Edwards Community Center at the Armory.

The price tag for the renovations is $4,198,690.

The building is scheduled to reopen in January 2019.

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