City Council discusses legislative agenda, makes board appointments

rarriaza@vagazette.com

City Council heard presentations from fire chief Pat Dent and Interim City Manager Andrew Trivette, and appointed three people to local boards at its monthly meeting on Sept. 13.

The meeting began with a presentation from Dent, who gave Council an update on the state of the city’s storm preparations. Although Hurricane Florence has taken a southward turn and poses little threat to the Williamsburg area, Dent said city staff will continue to monitor the situation to watch for any changes throughout the weekend.

“The great thing about the city is that we were prepared, and we still are prepared in the event something were to change,” Dent said. “Our emergency operations center and our staff, our roster is prepared and we’re ready to activate. At this point, based on the most current trends, we don’t think that’s going to be necessary.”

Although the city has not opened its shelter at Quarterpath Park Recreation Center, Dent said the city is prepared to open it should that need arise. Evacuees coming to Williamsburg can go to the state-managed shelter at William and Mary’s McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center, located at 705 S. Henry St. As of 11 a.m. Thursday, Dent said the state-managed shelter did not yet house any evacuees, but that shelter staff expects to be receiving North and South Carolina residents in the coming days.

In response to a question from council member Ted Maslin, Dent said that opening the state-managed shelter caught the city off guard.

“It wasn’t communicated very well to the city that was the plan to open that state-managed shelter,” he said. “That could’ve prevented us from staffing and having everything prepared for our shelter, so we’re going to work with the state on that to work on that communication process.”

Legislative agenda

Interim City Manager Andrew Trivette then led a presentation on the Council’s annual legislative agenda-setting process. Each fall, Council goes through the process of developing and approving a set of legislative priorities ahead of the General Assembly convening in January.

The process began with Trivette’s presentation on Thursday, which gave an overview of the process. Next month, he said city staff return to the local legislative body with a draft of the legislative agenda, which will be adopted by Council in November. In December, Council is expected to discuss the legislative issues they find to be most pressing for the city with local state representatives, Trivette said.

Because the General Assembly session doesn’t start until January, Trivette said that legislative plan is always subject to change.

“There’s a lot of things that could change with bills that are added to legislative session last minute or we identify after the deadline, and the city, of course, has to react to those,” he said. “Just because it’s not in the legislative agenda that we produce doesn’t mean that we’re not actively working on it in Richmond.”

Board appointments

City Council unanimously appointed Barbara G. Vollmer, Scott Spence and William and Mary student Caleb Rogers to three local legislative boards.

Trivette said that appointees are eligible to start immediately, but could be delayed depending on their individual schedules.

Vollmer will fulfill an unexpired term on the Williamsburg Area Arts Commission for a term ending June 30, 2021. Spence was appointed to the Architectural Review Board, and also will fulfill an unexpired term ending on Dec. 31, 2018.

Rogers will join the Planning Commission, and will fill an unexpired term that will end on Dec. 1, 2019. Rogers served as an intern for the city’s Economic Development Authority over the summer, and is the third William and Mary student ever to serve on the board, according to Carolyn Murphy and Councilman Benny Zhang. Chris Connolly served from 2011 to 2015, and Justin Shawler, a graduate student at the college, is on the board, Zhang said.

Council also confirmed finance director Barbara Dameron’s position on the Middle Peninsula Juvenile Detention Commission for a term ending on June 30, 2022 and that began on July 1 of this year.

Next meeting

Where: City Council Chambers, Stryker Center, 412 N. Boundary St.

When: Oct. 8, 4 p.m.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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