Mayor erases Great Falls Arts Center demolition, declares vote an error

AUBURN — A review of meeting rules has convinced Mayor Dick Gleason to erase a controversial Nov. 15 decision to demolish the Great Falls Performing Arts Center.

Councilors voted 4-3 on Nov. 15 to suspend their rules, allowing them to take up an unscheduled agenda item. They then voted 4-3 to tear down the building — with councilors Mike Farrell, Dan Herrick, Ray Berube and Belinda Gerry voting to demolish.

But Gleason said a subsequent review of Robert's Rules of Order showed that motions to suspend a group's rules require a two-thirds vote. In Auburn's case, that means councilors needed five votes to suspend their own meeting rules.

 "Because there were only four votes to suspend, I will declare that motion to suspend invalid and place the original motion to tear down Great Falls School on the agenda for Dec. 6," Gleason wrote Tuesday in an e-mail to councilors. "This will also give the public time to speak at the meeting."

Gleason said he was unaware of the five-vote requirement at the time of the meeting, but he learned about it afterward.

 "I've been thinking about it ever since," Gleason said. "But then on Tuesday, I realized that it was time to set the agenda for the next meeting. I needed to move ahead."

 Gleason said the council will first discuss the fate of the Great Falls building in a Dec. 6 workshop meeting, scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. A formal vote will come during the regular 7 p.m. meeting.

The building is home to 12 tenants, including  dance academies, pottery studios and the Community Little Theatre. 

Members of the theater's board of directors said Saturday they would ask the city to sell the building to them in a bid to save it from being demolished. 

staylor@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

IRONIC PROFESSIONS

What I find extremely ironic is that the two councelors that are pushing the HARDEST to close and demolish Great Falls School, own and operate demolition and construction companies. I see that as a TOTAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Even more so, it would validate the fact that they are looking to line there own pockets. They shouldn't get a vote as far as I'm concerned. Those that voted to not demolish the building need to stick to there guns and morals.

SCOTT TAYLOR's picture
staff

Mayor says he was wrong

Mayor Gleason just issued a statement saying he was wrong to declare the vote invalid and the decision to demolish stands. I'm writing an update and we'll get it online as soon as we can.

Tony Morin's picture

Wow!

Nice move. Seems to be more of a reasonable course of action to allow public comment and discussion versus the shenanigans from last week. Kudos to Gleason.

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