Chapin Town Council candidates talk annexation, recreation at forum

There will be at least one new face on Chapin Town Council after the Nov. 3 election. The Chapin Women’s Club hosted a forum Thursday to give voters the opportunity to hear from the candidates.

Four people filed to run for the two open seats on council including incumbent Kay Hollis, Mike Clonts, Mark McCandlish and Jim Palassis. Councilwoman Vivian Atkins decided not to seek re-eleection.

Less than two weeks until the election, annexation and beautification were the major topics of discussion Thursday. Candidates agreed any growth must be managed wisely so Chapin can maintain its small-town feel.

“(Annexation) needs to be structured, a little bit at a time … because you have to have the services (in place),” McCandlish said.

Candidates also agreed the police force must be taken into account if the town is to expand its borders.

“I would hope that what we annex … brings a tax base … We will need a larger police force,” Palassis said. “Hopefully it will be managed growth and we’ll add on to our fire department and police department.”

“That’s a good example of all the things that need to be considered when you’re thinking about annexing,” Clonts said.

McCandlish added developers need to be held accountable when they construct homes but don’t provide funds for infrastructure and roads.

Candidates talked about how Chapin needs to make a better first impression on people with improved beautification but did not agree on a recent proposal to add another park to the town. Hollis said she didn’t think the town could afford another recreation amenity right now, and McCandlish said the park wasn’t a top priority.

Palassis said he would be in favor of a new park if it had proper sidewalks to access it, which Crooked Creek Park does not.

“I don’t know what would be best, sidewalks installed at Crooked Creek or to build a new park,” he said.

“Someone has to worry about paying for (sidewalks),” Clonts said.

The ongoing discord among council and the mayor was also addressed. McCandlish said council needs to work together more efficiently and put emotions aside.

“The only way to resolve issues is to talk through them … All five people need to be heard,” Clonts said.

Hollis said council members could get along better if everyone had the chance to put items on the agenda instead of just the mayor.

Candidates said raising taxes isn’t out of the question if the reason for doing so is justifiable.

“All of us would like to say we’re never going to vote to raise taxes, but we still have expenses …  We need to talk about … if we could reduce expenses somewhere else … as part of that discussion process,” Clonts said.

“We have to keep people informed, and they have to have a say in it,” Hollis added.