Photo by Curt Yeomans
Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day (from left) and City Councilman Joe Compton listen Monday as former Councilman Billy Powell asks the city to buy a grill for official events in the town.
JONESBORO — The city of Jonesboro is considering spending $2,500 in taxpayer monies to buy a grill because Clayton County officials allegedly won’t let the city borrow their cooker.
Former City Councilman Billy Powell, who is asking for the grill purchase, said the city has previously not had any problems borrowing the county’s grill for events. However, he said city representatives were refused their request to borrow the county’s grill for an city celebration in April.
At the time, the smoke was still thick in the battle over what some have called the “scorched Earth” of Lee Street Park.
“In the past we’ve been borrowing the county’s grill and we were lucky enough to get it but this year, for Jonesboro Days, we asked to get a grill from the county and they denied us,” said Powell. “I honestly feel if we did have our own grill, we could utilize it in the neighborhoods for neighborhood cookouts, for a concert and the upcoming Christmas parade.”
Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day has appointed a committee made up of councilmen Joe Compton, Clarence Mann and Wallace Norrington to look into the possibility of the city buying a grill.
“See what kind of proposal you can come up with for us,” said Day.
The grill issue is just a trickle down side-effect from the ongoing service delivery strategy fight being waged between the county and its seven cities.
County officials unexpectedly handed Lee Street Park over to Jonesboro leaders in March, claiming that they could not legally run a park in the city limits without a service delivery agreement in place.
Emotions erupted in April when city leaders accused county officials of stripping virtually all of the equipment out of the park’s concession stand in retaliation over the ongoing service delivery dispute. Not every Clayton city has to sign the agreement but Georgia law requires Jonesboro, as the county seat, to sign any agreement before it can legally go into effect.
“We wouldn’t need a grill if the county hadn’t taken everything out of the concession stand because then we would have everything we needed already in the park,” said Councilwoman Pat Sebo.
The set-up with Jonesboro having to borrow the county’s grill for events is, in many ways, based on the city’s ability to stay in the good graces of county leaders.
“We shouldn’t be in a position where we have to keep begging people to let us use their grill,” said Powell.
Powell brought forward one suggestion of a $2,500 used trailer-style double-grill that he found on Craigslist.com, but the committee of Compton, Mann and Norrington could decide to buy something cheaper.
“A good grill on a trailer could last 25 to 30 years,” said Powell. “We could see how we could do something or we could sit up here and say how we can’t do something. I’d like to see how we can do this.”
He said any city department or group, including the Jonesboro Neighborhood Watch, would be allowed to use the grill.
Council members showed some initial hesitation Monday toward buying an expensive grill because it was not something budgeted for last winter. Compton suggested the city use the grill, if purchased, as a money-making device in connection with the town’s Battleground Park on Jodeco Road.
“It could possibly be that when people rent Battleground Park and that pavilion there, they might also possibly rent the grill,” said Compton.
Sebo said she was skeptical about the idea of buying a grill where there are other needs, such as an overhaul to the city’s aging website, in Jonesboro that have to be addressed.
“We need to prioritize how we spend our money and a grill for the city is not a real high priority right now,” she said.