Shircliffe’s request to restore Main St. access to Sanctuary Arts blocked again

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By Shannon Brock

Despite the efforts of one new commissioner, the request of a Main Street property owner was once again blocked regarding the property’s Main Street access.
John Shircliffe, who, with his wife, Judy, owns the Sanctuary Arts Center at the corner of Main and Jefferson streets, asked the commission last week to restore the Main Street access taken away during the Phase II Main Street Project renovations.
Shircliffe made the same request of the outgoing commission in December and was denied, but decided to try his luck with the new commission, which met for the first time last Tuesday.
During the time allotted for public comment, Shircliffe presented the commissioners — incumbents Beverly Ingram and Kathy Spears and new commissioners Jack Proctor and Ellen Redmon — with a timeline of events regarding the Main Street access, which was curbed over during the Phase II Main Street Project renovations.
Members of the public have to sign up to speak at city meetings by the Friday prior to the Tuesday meeting and are supposed to be granted three minutes to speak.
Shircliffe, the only member of the public to address the commission, spoke for at least 15 minutes.
Proctor cut to the chase with Shircliffe and asked what his intentions were.
“Is it your intent to file a lawsuit against the city?” Proctor asked.
“We don’t have a problem with the city. We have a problem with three commissioners,” Shircliffe said, referencing Ingram, Spears and former Commissioner Larry Waldridge. “[Any] suit would be directly with those three commissioners.”
Shircliffe claims he never agreed to close up the property’s Main Street access.
“Either the city forced us to do that or we agreed to do that,” Shircliffe said. “We did not agree to do that.”
“Your time is up, and it was your plan,” Ingram told Shircliffe, referencing illustrations Shircliffe made of the project when he was a part of the Main Street Committee.
“[Your time] was up 13 minutes ago,” Spears said.
Only after the discussion did Mayor Don Pay say that Shircliffe had asked for extra time to bring the new commissioners up to speed.
Shircliffe sat down and the commission moved forward with its agenda.
However, at the end of the meeting during time reserved for comments from commissioners, Proctor brought up the issue again saying that longer it is left without resolution, the more it will fester.
“As this thing festers and goes on, you’re polarizing Main Street,” Proctor said.
Proctor said it wasn’t worth going to court and spending $10,000 to $20,000 when the issue could be settled for $4,000 or $5,000.
“We are friends, but this is strictly business,” Proctor said of the Shircliffes. “What’s it going to cost versus what could it cost.”
Proctor then made a motion that the city replace the curb in front of the Sanctuary Arts Center at a fee not to exceed $5,000.
However, Spears was quick to halt the motion by reminding the commission that a vote had already been taken on the matter and could only be rescinded with a four-fifths vote.
Spears said the timeline Shircliffe presented only included his side.
“From day one, they came before the commission and we were told David’s had to be taken out at The Tea Cup, and at T&R, and at the Sanctuary...” Spears said.
“That’s a lie,” Shircliffe said.
Spears said from the beginning she just wanted the businesses and property owners to be treated fairly and that if Shircliffe got to keep his Main Street access, then so should others who had it taken away.
Noticing the heat rising in the conversation, Pay urged the commission to move on.
“Move it on,” Pay said. “Blame me for moving it on.”