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Council members discussed TCI's business practices at a luncheon held Sept. 29

by Karen E. Culp

City Council will hold a series of hearings about the planned merger between TCI and AT&T, and approved a resolution to initiate that process at its Sept. 28 meeting.

The council continued the discussion of the pending merger at its Sept. 29 luncheon, where Councilman Bob Vanaman began the discussion by pointing out some concerns with the city's cable provider, asking other council members what they thought about the cable company, its actions in Springfield and the proposed merger.

"I have had conversations with builders and contractors who say it is 14 or 16 months before they get cable into those new subdivisions. To me, that constitutes a breach of their contract," Vanaman said.

TCI is obligated by its contract with the city to provide service inside the city limits, and the service has to be provided in situations where there are 7 1/2 homes per quarter mile of cable, said Assistant City Attorney Nancy Yendes.

"The 7 1/2 homes was a priority for us when we negotiated the contract during the merger of TCI and Telecable," Yendes said.

Ross Summers, general manager for TCI, said the company works to meet its contractual obligation, but it has had difficulty in the past keeping up with all of the new subdivisions in Springfield.

"In the past, there have been some subdivisions we simply have not known about, but now, we are receiving information from the city when a new plat for a subdivision is coming in, and so we should be better informed from now on on that," Summers said.

The city and TCI are also involved in an audit over franchise fees and what fees the cable company owes the city. Summers said there are some areas where the city and TCI do not agree on franchise fee payments.

"The meetings to reconcile those issues are ongoing," Summers said.

Yendes said the city has talked to TCI about building out its cable plant to new subdivisions within the required 180 days, and said that the breaches of contract the city feels TCI now has should be worked out before the transfer of the company to AT&T's ownership.

"These breaches should be corrected as part of the transfer, and we should make it known that they are not going to be allowed to occur in the future," Yendes said.

Another concern Vanaman and a few other council members brought up at the luncheon was whether TCI answers phone calls for service in a timely fashion.

"It sounds to me as though it is very difficult to get through to them on the phone," Vanaman said.

Summers responded that the company receives about 20,000 phone calls per day, but that it takes each call, and has office staff to receive calls during its business hours.

The public hearings will be administered by a citizens advisory committee for cable television. City Council appoints members to the committee, which meets with TCI officials quarterly.

The council will ultimately vote on the switch to AT&T.

In other council business, City Council passed unanimously a resolution to add Kiddie Cove Day Care to the Springfield Historic Register and to rezone three-quarters of an acre of land at South Scenic from heavy manufacturing to industrial commercial.

The council tabled two bills at the end of its Second Reading Agenda, one of which was a bill to condemn property to be developed into Civic Park.

The second tabled ordinance was a bill that would initiate a developer agreement between Thompson Sales Company and the city for street improvements at a potential new site for Thompson Sales Company's auto dealership at Independence Avenue and Fremont. Both items were tabled indefinitely.

Mayor Lee Gannaway said he "could not comment at this time" on the tabled bill dealing with Thompson Sales Company. The tabled bill dealing with the condemnation was a result of the city's "trying not to rush into anything," he said. When city officials began to consider the condemnation process, they decided the time frame was such that they could wait before passing the bill.

"At this point, it would take only two weeks to get it back on the agenda since we've already had the first reading on it," Gannaway said.

Negotiations for the city to acquire the property at 727-815 E. St. Louis and 601-909 E. Trafficway are ongoing. Five businesses, including one location of Thompson Sales Company's auto dealerships, will move in order to make way for the park.

Under ceremonial matters, the council approved City Utilities' operating budget for fiscal year 1999. The fiscal year budget for the utility is $276.3 million, which is $21.5 million, or 7.2 percent, less than last fiscal year's budget.

Council members in attendance were Mayor Lee Gannaway, Mayor Pro Tem Teri Hacker, Zone 4 Council Member Russell Rhodes, Zone 2 Council Member Shelia Wright, Zone 1 Council Member Bob Vanaman, General Council Member Tom Carlson, General Council Member Gary Gibson and General Council Member Bob Chancellor.

Ceremonial Matters

Council approved City Utilities' proposed 1998-99 operating budget.

Council Bills for Public Hearing.

Citizens may speak. Cannot be voted on.

Council Bill 98-342. Amends Planned Development District No. 21, fifth amendment, on the north side of Republic Road east of Campbell Avenue.

Council Bill 98-343. Amends Planned Development District No. 12, 17th amendment, at the northwest corner of Fremont Avenue and Kingsley Street.

Council Bill 98-344. Rezones more than 108 acres of land, north of Norton Road and west of Park Avenue, from a general retail district, a Greene County C-2 district and a Greene County R-1 district to Planned Development District No. 220.

Council Bill 98-345. Rezones land on the east side of North Delaware Avenue, just north of Kearney Street, from a single-family residential district to a highway commercial district.

Council Bill 98-346. Rezones more than 14 acres of land at the northeast corner of Republic Road and Cox Road from a single-family residential district to a general retail district.

Council Bill 98-347. Rezones two acres of land at the southwest corner of Division Street and Belcrest Avenue from a general manufacturing district to an industrial commercial district.

Council Bill 98-348. Rezones more than an acre of land at the southeast corner of Battlefield Road and Parkview Avenue from a single-family residential district to Planned Development District No. 222.

First Reading Bills

Citizens may speak. Cannot be voted on.

Council Bill 98-349. Enacts Division V, dealing with erosion and sediment control for land development and land disturbance activity.

Council Bill 98-350. Declares the necessity of condemning property in fee located at 1130 E. Normal and 1134 E. Normal, within the city limits, to construct and maintain a detention basin and other related improvements in the SMSU Southern Boundary Project.

Council Bill 98-369. Authorizes the city manager to enter into an agreement with Gannett News Services, dba the Springfield News-Leader, to place electrical service equipment on city property and to construct a paved plaza area on right of way.

Resolutions

Citizens may speak. May be voted on.

Council Bill 98-351. Designates Kiddie Cove Day Care Center, 918 E. Calhoun St., as a historic site as listed on the Springfield Historic Register. Approved unanimously.

Council Bill 98-352. Initiates an independent review of the variance granted by the Planning and Zoning Commission for sidewalks for Ingram Corner Subdivision. Tabled.

Council Bill 98-353. Initiates a public hearing process to review the possible transfer of ownership of a cable television system from TCI Inc. to AT&T Corporation. Approved unanimously.

Council Bill 98-273, substitute No. 1. Rezones an acre of land on the west side of South Scenic south of Battlefield from a heavy manufacturing district to an industrial commercial district. Approved unanimously.

Council Bill 98-321. Declares the necessity of condemning property in fee in the area of 727-815 E. St. Louis and 601-909 E. Trafficway, within the city limits, to establish Civic Park. Tabled.

Council Bill 98-322. Authorizes the city manager to enter into an access and infrastructure agreement with Thompson Sales Company Inc. for street improvements on Independence Avenue and Fremont. Tabled.

Consent Agenda First Reading Bills

Citizens may remove from Consent Agenda and speak. Cannot be voted on.

Council Bill 98-354. Establishes a sanitary sewer district in the 1500 block of South Weaver Avenue.

Council Bill 98-355. Establishes a sanitary sewer district in the 800 block of North Jonathan Avenue.

Council Bill 98-356. Establishes a sanitary sewer district in the 5300 block of South Parkhill Avenue.

Council Bill 98-357. Establishes a sanitary sewer district in the 3900 block of West Chestnut Expressway.

Council Bill 98-358. Approves the construction of additional sanitary sewers in the 2300 block of North Golden Avenue.

Council Bill 98-359. Approves Lowe's Subdivision, north of Norton Road and west of Kansas Expressway, as an addition to the city of Springfield.

Council Bill 98-360. Approves Northern Lights Southern Charm, north of Norton Road and west of Park Avenue, as an addition to the city of Springfield.

Council Bill 98-361. Approves Millstone Subdivision, on the north side of West Battlefield Road between Fort and Dayton avenues, as an addition to the city of Springfield.

Council Bill 98-362. Approves Ingram Corners Subdivision, on the east side of Eastgate Avenue north of Sunshine Street, as an addition to the city of Springfield.

Consent Agenda One Reading Bills

Citizens may remove from Consent Agenda and speak. May be voted on.

The following bills were approved in one action.

Council Bill 98-363. Approves the bid of Pittman Construction Company for the construction of storm sewers in the 700 block of East Boyer.

Council Bill 98-364. Approves the bid of JLA Enterprises Inc. for sidewalk reconstruction phase I.

Council Bill 98-365. Approves the bid of JLA Enterprises Inc. for school sidewalk construction phase I.

Council Bill 98-366. Approves the bid of JLA Enterprises Inc. for school sidewalk construction phase II.

Council Bill 98-367. Approves the bid of Rensch Construction for the removal of storage tanks, structures and debris at 1835 E. Trafficway.

Council Bill 98-368. Establishes a joint sanitary sewer district at Mentor Avenue and Gasconade Street, and directs the city manager to advertise for bids for the construction.

Consent Agenda Second Reading Bills.

Citizens have spoken. May be voted on.

Council Bill 98-315. Authorizes the city manager to enter into a supplemental agreement with the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission to provide transportation enhancement funds for the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge rehabilitation project, and amends the budget for the Public Works Department for the fiscal year 1998-99 in the amount of $160,500.

Council Bill 98-316. Authorizes the city manager to accept a grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to assist funding the construction of an additional compost pad at the yard waste Recycling Center, and amends the budget provided for the Public Works Department for fiscal year 1998-99 in the amount of $135,969.

Amended Council Bill 98-317. Grants an exception to provide sanitary sewer outside the urban service area on East Division west of Farm Road 197. Removed from the Consent Agenda and tabled.

Amended Council Bill 98-318. Grants an exception to provide sanitary sewer outside the urban service area on East Division east of Farm Road 197. Removed from the Consent Agenda and tabled.

Council Bill 98-329. Establishes a sanitary sewer district in the 1400 block of South Kansas Expressway.

Council Bill 98-330. Establishes a sanitary sewer district at 3728 W. Chestnut Expwy.

Council Bill 98-331. Establishes a sanitary sewer district in the 2700 block of North Barnes Avenue.

Council Bill 98-332. Establishes a sanitary sewer district in the 4600 block of East Smith Road.

Council Bill 98-333. Approves the construction of additional sanitary sewers in the 2800 block of North Airport Commerce Avenue.

Council Bill 98-334. Approves Remington's Subdivision, at the northeast corner of Republic Road and Kansas Expressway, as an addition to the city.

Council Bill 98-335. Approves Glendale Terrace, 12th addition, at the northwest corner of Fulbright Avenue and Jean Street, as an addition to the city.

Council Bill 98-336. Approves Glen River, on the north side of Old Republic Road east of Glenstone Avenue, as an addition to the city.

Council Bill 98-337. Approves Grace Addition, on the west side of South Campbell between Sunset and Broadmoor streets, as an addition to the city.

Council Bill 98-338. Approves Chesterfield Village, tract I, on the northwest quadrant of the James River Freeway and Kansas Expressway interchange, as an addition to the city.

Council Bill 98-339. Approves Hawthorn Suites, on the north side of East Republic Road opposite Charleston Avenue, as an addition to the city.

Confirm the appointment of Jerry L. Hackleman to the Building Trades Examination and Certification Board.

Confirm the appointment of John C. Rush to the Park Board.

New Business

The city manager recommended the appointments of Richard G. See and A.G. Paul, and the reappointments of Dave Presley and John Lane, to the Building Trades and Examination and Certification Board, terms to expire Oct. 1, 2001.

The city manager recommended the appointment of Cindy McGinnis to the Park Board, term to expire June 1, 2001.

Closed Session

Council moved to hold a closed meeting to discuss leasing, purchase or sale of real estate by a governmental body where public knowledge of the transaction might adversely affect the legal consideration therefore, pursuant to Section 610.021 (2), RSMo. 1994; and to discuss legal actions, causes of action, litigation, privileged and confidential communications, pursuant to Section 610.021 (1), RSMo. 1994, and this meeting, record and vote shall be closed.

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