In a speech before a packed house at Hope City Hall that was a bit defiant, a bit apologetic, and a bit reflective, Tena Pilkinton Carter stood before the Hope City Board on Tuesday night saying she was not pleased with how the City of Hope handled the Dox Building situation.

In a speech before a packed house at Hope City Hall that was a bit defiant, a bit apologetic, and a bit reflective, Tena Pilkinton Carter stood before the Hope City Board on Tuesday night saying she was not pleased with how the City of Hope handled the Dox Building situation.
“I will pay what is necessary, but I am not pleased with how this was handled,” Carter said, “What I need now is some help and some cooperation.”
Carter, who either owns or controls interest in several downtown Hope properties, felt she was vilified over the past nine months as concerns about dilapidated buildings, especially the Dox Building, came to a head at the start of 2017.
At one point, however, Carter said she had not been properly informed of the gravity of the situation until she read about it, holding up editions of the Hope Star from earlier in 2017, and she explained that several Pilkinton relatives and heirs had various interests in the properties.
“This just didn’t happen in 2017; the City has known about this for years,” she said.
Other than a reference to the Dox Building being a hazard to public safety, no member of the city board or city administration addressed or defended the City to Carter’s claims of being uninformed or mistreated.
For City Attorney Joe Short, it was a simple matter of process and procedure. He said the cost to tear down the building safely was $37,500, and therefore, he recommended the city place a lien in that exact amount.
Carter said that she had gotten a local bid on demolition for only $18,000, and questioned who the city used and why the cost was much higher.
After the public hearing segment was completed, with only Short and Carter speaking, the City Board went back into regular session, and then voted unanimously to approve the lien, and then turned to other business, which included its proposed grant application for the proposed Downtown Pavillon that has been promoted heavily by the Hope Farmer’s market, who also had a large contingent in City Hall.
The grant request is for $120,075 is actually a Parks and Recreation grant, and would represent matching funds with the City of Hope on the hook for another $120,075.  The City had recently received a $35,000 grant from AEP/SWEPCO to defray some of that cost.
Hope resident John Akin, however, said the Board was using taxpayer money on a project that he felt not all the Hope taxpayers and residents agreed with. Mayor Steve Montgomery, however, replied “Nothing ever has 100-percent support in the community,” but then he bizarrely stated “There is significant public support for the pavilion,” although publicly, members of the Farmer’s Market, half of whom are not residents of Hope, have been the most vocal proponents of it.
Board member Don Still claimed that one person visited him and was for the Pavillon, and finally, board member Mark Ross admitted that “I’ve heard both sides,” but he made no strong statement regarding the issue after that.
The entire city board seemed not to acknowledge — or ignore — that earlier in the year prominent citizens like Kim Hollis and Cherry Stewart had publicly suggested that the new Hempstead Public Library would be a better option for the site that putting up an outdoor pavilion.
Stewart had even publicly touted a joint meeting between the City of Hope and the Library Board, or even members of the Hempstead Quorum Court to discuss relocating the new library site to where the proposed pavilion is set, but no meeting ever occurred, and Stewart’s idea that the library could be a “second anchor” with the new courthouse in downtown — although it was gaining public traction - was also ignored by the Hope City Board.
Later, Akin noted that no vote or ballot initiative has been before the public regarding placing an outdoor pavilion in downtown, and he asked the City Board to consider having the citizens vote.
Afterwards, Akin bemoaned “The City wants to spend money it doesn’t even have just to get a grant, which is also taxpayer money, on something that may not be necessary.”
The City Board moved ahead and voted to approve the resolution to allow the grant application.
In other Hope City Board news, the City Board approved City Manager Catherine Cook’s request to purchase a $6,000 copy machine.
The City Board also looked at a single proposal for redistricting the city’s voting districts or wards.  Cook said that ideally the wards should have approximately 1,400 citizens each.  A map displayed in presentation, however, showed obvious “dog legs” and other contortions, and two board members asked to see other options, which presumedly will be presented at a future meeting before December 2017.
Three of the board’s directors, Ross in Ward 1, Montgomery in Ward 6, and Still in Ward 7, are all up for re-election next year in 2018.
Kiffinea Talley in Ward 2 and Trevor Coffee in Ward 5 were just elected to new terms in 2016 and will not face voters again until 2020. In Ward 3, Reginald Easter also arrived in 2016, running unopposed and assuming Willie Walker’s old seat.
In Ward 4, Don Hall has remained in place, also unopposed since 2002, after assuming the seat of J.C. Winemiller.