Vial to step down from DUR board
Red Oak Downtown Urban Renewal Board Chairman Roger Vial recently declined to renew his board term.
At the DUR meeting Jan. 4, the board discussed Vial’s decision, and the board’s potential future. Vial cited that part of the decision was due to the fact that a lot has been put on him as an individual.
“I’ve asked for help and haven’t got any response, so maybe this will help push it along. This is one of the best boards in town, but nothing seems to change. That’s all I’m going to say,” Vial said. “I’ll buck along the trail with the board, but it’s going to be a couple more months and then I’m out. There are going to have to be record transfers; I’m going to have to go through boxes of papers to get it properly secured in the right area; and it’s too bad that it took this for it to happen.”
DUR Board Member Mark Jackson echoed Vial’s statements, and said several other members of the board have expressed the same feelings to the City of Red Oak, and all their comments seem to have been ignored.
DUR Board Member Ann Carder said there had been conversations about a number of issues, such as storage space at City Hall for storage of records, and that was the extent of the help provided. Vial said he had been forced to keep information stored in other areas as well.
“I’ve had information on my personal laptop for the last seven years. I have all the files in my garage, from 2016 to now. I’ve said for years that’s not right, and it should be somewhere else. If it takes this to make a change, then this is what it takes. I also feel that the community has to be careful with how hard it pushes its volunteers, because that’s why they go away,” Vial commented.
Carder praised Vial’s efforts as chair for the past many years, and said she wasn’t sure who can do a better job than Vial, and that Vial would be hard to replace. Vial suggested the DUR Chairman move to a paid position in the future.
“To me, this position needs to be put on someone that has a wage from it, and it is in their job description.Then the board steps in and helps that person with the tough conversations with business owners, or the decision making, and then we stand behind the wage earner. For the last seven or eight years, that’s just been me,” Vial advised.
Carder felt the records needed to be scanned and secured in an electronic way to make them accessible, and searchable, with the original paperwork maintained as well. It was felt that the records should be stored with the city, as the board was a city-funded entity, and no other committee under the city’s umbrella had as much responsibility and accountability as the DUR Board.
It was also cited that the outdated information on the city’s website, which included the name of prior chairperson Jan Norris rather than Vial, needed to be updated, and it still had not happened.
“The information was accepted, with the understanding of what we were asking. It just never happened, and I’m not sure if that was because of a lack of accountability in making it happen,” Carder stated.
Red Oak Mayor Shawnna Silvius was in attendance and apologized for the perceived lack of support from the city and a lack of a city representative on the DUR board.
“I feel that Roger may have been taken advantage of, since he’s trusted and has done a good job,” Silvius commented.
Jackson said he had the conversation with prior mayor Bill Billings as well as Silvius, and also stated that when he first came on the board, it wasn’t an issue for City Hall because the Chamber had been saddled with storage responsibilities. Vial made it clear that was simply the setup at the time.
“Things were set up that way in 1990, right, wrong, or indifferent, that’s the way it was. We moved forward for years, and while I don’t disagree with the change, it seems it was never taken seriously after that,” Vial said.
Silvius said there were things taking place within the city that she hoped would increase the lack of cooperation with the DUR Board.
“The city clerk job description included that they would take notes for the airport commission and the park and tree board, and I made the correction that they also need to take notes from here. It was just that the original job description did not include the DUR Board minutes in the prior description.”
“We’re going to need a little patience, because we’ve got to get the positions filled, and we’re trying to update things as we can,” Silvius said.
Board member Audie Rainey suggested action items on the Red Oak City Council Agenda regarding the changes, such as recreating the files that had been with Vial.
“There’s been a lot of conversation about what hasn’t been taken care of, so let’s focus on moving forward, and get something from your office of some action items, and then the patience will be a little bit better because we’ll have a better feel for how things are going to transpire,” Rainey stated.
Jackson felt that the surge in DUR funding applications was due to the leadership of Vial, and his ability to look at the things that were holding the board back.
“People told us a lot of reasons for why they weren’t submitting DUR grants. We would discuss it, and work through it, and that’s why our downtown is in much better shape. This is a vital board to the community, and it hasn’t been fair for a long time. We’re not talking about blame, we’re talking about moving forward, and fixing things, so the board can continue to be successful,” Jackson advised.
Silvius said that moving forward was going to be her focus, and asked if the council took up the action items that would be more accommodating to the DUR Board, if Vial would wish to reconsider his decision to not extend his board term. Vial did not confirm either way, and said they’d resume the conversation after the action items were taken up.