Special meeting in Winchester focusing on sidewalk restoration draws large crowd

By Gary Scott on June 17, 2016 at 7:20am

A special City Council meeting in Winchester was called last night after some aldermen raised concerns over an improvement that was made to the downtown square.

At issue was a $450 concrete restoration to a sidewalk. The aldermen apparently were concerned there was no specific motion made to do the work or pay for it, and wanted to ensure funds were spent through the proper channels.

Street superintendent John Simmons, who has been in that position for almost 16 years, said he didn’t think he overstepped his boundaries.

Rex McIntyre is the mayor of Winchester.

“I think they were upset because he hadn’t called them and talked to them prior to doing this work, but it’s been a past practice. It’s common practice that the superintendent did take care of sidewalks and smaller projects like that, he has done that in the past. And, some of the aldermen weren’t happy with this one, for some reason,” he says.

One alderman suggested establishing a dollar limit for projects so City Council didn’t have to micromanage.

City Attorney John Coonrod urged council to develop a comprehensive plan moving forward. McIntyre says something will happen at next month’s meeting.

“We’ll get together, come up with a prioritized schedule on what items the council feels need to be done first, and get a priority list of how to approach them, and then look at our funds, what money we have in each of our funds, and how we can pay for them,” says McIntyre.

McIntyre notes city beautification is one of his top priorities.

“Make our city more appealing and try to attract the right kind of people to move to Winchester, maybe to start businesses here, get some buildings occupied again,” McIntrye says.

City officials moved last night’s meeting to the Winchester EMS building because of an anticipated large audience. Many citizens did show up and appeared to be in support of Simmons’ actions.

Several citizens in attendance spoke in support of a three-dollar surcharge to Winchester water bills to help pay for public works projects in the future. McIntyre said that could bring in $25,000 to $30,000 annually.