Bales takes issue with committee role


HUNTERSVILLE – The town’s proposed Main and Maxwell Park is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Commissioner Jeff Neely, one of the board’s most ardent supporters of the park, said it’ll provide residents with more amenities.

“The residents have requested some things they didn’t have, and this park provides those, like an amphitheater,” Neely said. “It’s a good plan, and I’m in favor of it.”

Commissioners Melinda Bales and Ron Julian agreed. Bales cited additional flexibility for events as a plus, and Julian said the park will continue to keep the town attractive to visitors.

Commissioners approved the park’s master plan by a 4-1 vote during the town board’s Dec. 2 meeting. Outgoing commissioner Charles Guignard stepped away from the dais for the vote, while commissioner Danny Phillips voted against the plan and a request for the town to apply for a parks and recreation trust fund grant. 

Phillips said the town was “putting the cart before the horse” in approving the plan as presented.

“We don’t even own all the property,” he said, adding the town’s staff needed to have a flagpole for an American flag at the park, which Parks and Recreation Director Michael Jaycocks said was feasible.

The park will have space for memorials, he added.

During the meeting, the board elected Bales as its mayor pro-tem. The second-term commissioner earned the most votes in the Nov. 5 election by a 229-vote margin over Phillips.

Bales was also appointed to represent the town on the Lake Norman Transportation Commission, but she wanted more responsibilities. 

“The appointments undermine the board’s effectiveness and are a clear disregard for the voters,” she said. “I can only believe that these were politically driven.”

Bales, Phillips and newly elected commissioner Rob Kidwell voted against board and committee appointments, but Mayor Jill Swain broke a 3-3 tie and approved them as presented.

Swain, Julian and Neely disapproved of the allegations the appointments were engineered with an agenda.

“Rather than drawing a line in the sand with our first meeting (as a new board),” Swain said, “I’d say we try the committees as they are. We can always adjust if there is a need.”

Kidwell's swearing-in and first meeting as a commissioner also marked the end of Guignard's tenure on the dais. Those in attendance gave Guignard a standing ovation, and Swain presented him with a plaque commemorating his efforts while on the town board. Thom Tillis, the Speaker of the North Caroina House of Representatives and a Cornelius resident, was also at the meeting. Tillis handled the swearing-in of the new town board.

Guignard promised to keep a close watch on town government. He thanked Janet Stoner, the head of the town's finance department, as well as the board and residents for allowing him to serve.

"It has been a humble honor to serve the citizens as an elected official," Guignard said. "I look forward to watching from a different seat."