By Cady Inabinett
Several members of the community expressed dissatisfaction with the Montevallo Junior City Council’s exclusion from the city council dais during meetings at the Montevallo City Council’s meeting on Aug. 23. The MJCC, represented by the Montevallo Junior Mayor, has traditionally had a seat at the council dais during council meetings. At the meeting, however, Junior Mayor Olivia Gilbert was prevented from taking her seat on the dais.
Gilbert addressed the council advocating for the MJCC’s seat on the council dais, saying, “For eight years now, I have thought of the MJCC as a magical thing,” and that it provides, “A way for the youth to make an impact in Montevallo.” Gilbert went on to say, “At the heart of the MJCC is our opportunity to sit on the dais with the council members. It’s a seat at the table. It’s a seat that tells my peers that they are welcome here.”
Two other Montevallo residents addressed the council in favor of MJCC. Sarah Hogan, Executive Director of Impact Montevallo—a drug prevention organization in the city, requested that, “a meeting or a public statement be made on behalf of our youth.”
Greg Reece, parent to Gilbert, delivered a passionate address to the council, saying that the MJCC is, “very important to the youth in our community. I don’t know if you know it, but cities around the state and around the country have noticed what Montevallo does with the Junior City Council. And one of the most important features of that has been the fact that for years, until the new mayor and council took your seats, was that the elected representative, the elected president, of the Montevallo Junior City Council has had a seat right there.”
Reece went on to argue that the Junior Mayor has the same validity as an unelected city official as the city clerk and repeatedly warned the council to, “Don’t blow it,” to have a youth representative at their council meetings.
Mayor Rusty Nix only made one comment on the matter during the meeting, saying, “I appreciate what the MJCC does. I think that they, you know, bring a voice to the community, but, you know, I’ve always been a stickler that behind the desk up here is elected and appointed officials.”
The council also provided an update on the Victory Building project, prompted by Montevallo resident C.P. Pierson requesting an update on the long-running project. City Clerk Steve Gilbert reported that Hal Turner, an architect with TurnerBatson Architects, “expects to have the final drawings for Interstellar and the restaurant in the center in two weeks.”
A new ordinance establishing the operating hours of city parks and pavilions was introduced to the council. The ordinance sets city parks’ hours of operation to dawn until dusk, with the exceptions of lighted athletic facilities at Stephens and Orr Parks during athletic events and Owl’s Cove Park during organized after hours events. Penalties for violating the ordinance include a $50 fine for the first offense, a $100 fine for the second offense, a $200 fine for the third offense and potential for jailtime for the fourth and any following offenses.
Gilbert described the ordinance as, “a matter of housekeeping,” as several council members expressed they already thought city parks’ hours were from dawn until dusk. He explained, “as we begin to have more and more requests for things that push the limit of the times, I think that it’s appropriate we have something that states it out clearly so there’s no gray area, particularly when it comes to the use of a pavilion.”
The council did not go into voting procedure for this ordinance, but voting for it will be on the agenda for the next city council meeting according to Nix.
The council did vote on and pass several other motions, however. This included a request from Main Street Montevallo to paint the windows of the Victory Building to promote the upcoming Tinglewood Festival, and a request form the Tinglewood Festival Committee to waive the city’s vendor and business license fee for the festival on Sept. 11. The council also approved a request from the University of Montevallo’s Chi Omega sorority to use Orr Park on Oct. 30 as the site for a 5K race fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Alabama.
The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, Sept. 13, at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page. Citizens may also attend the meeting in person at City Hall.