Richfield commissioner questions park maintenance, asks for board member’s resignation

Because of conditions at Richfield’s park, one town commissioner asked for the resignation of another at Monday’s meeting of the town’s council.

Commissioner Barry Byrd in comments from the board first apologized regarding a statement he made 16 months ago. The statement, he said, was regarding a subdivision for which he had applied, stating each lot would be at least one acre. The property, he added, at just 13 acres in size, would have made it “an impossibility” to have one-acre or larger lots.

“If I inadvertently said each one of those lots would be at least an acre, I’d like to apologize to (Commissioner Mary Shaver) and the board if I misrepresented myself,” Byrd said.

Byrd continued regarding the park, saying he was asked to ride by it a month ago. He said the grass was really high and might need to be mowed twice a week.

He said he had photographs of the bathrooms, which were “demolished,” and trash cans which had not been emptied.

“Commissioner (Jason) Ritter is supposed to be looking after this. But, and I want this on the record, Commissioner Ritter no longer lives in the town of Richfield,” Byrd said.

Byrd added Ritter needs “to either a) resign and let us fill the position to have somebody to look after the park, or b) move back into the town of Richfield, take this seat and do what he needs to do for the park.”

The commissioner also suggested the town hire a full-time maintenance person, saying the state of the park “is a reflection on the town of Richfield.”

Ritter was not in attendance at the meeting, but Byrd said he would “say this with him sitting here or with him not sitting here.” Byrd added he has called Ritter twice; neither call was returned.

Shaver asked Byrd what he had done in his capacity over zoning. Byrd responded that he has had conversations with Town Administrator Carolyn Capps weekly on the subject. When Shaver asked about the town’s minimum housing ordinance, Byrd said the ordinance “did not have a lot of teeth,” adding if a house does not meet the code “we have the availability to go through the demolition process with the county.”

Byrd later made a motion for the board to ask for Ritter’s resignation, which was eventually seconded. The vote split 2-2 between commissioners, with Byrd and Christy Neciase voting for the motion, and Shaver and Jay Patel voting against it. Richfield Mayor Terry Deese broke the tie, voting against the motion.

In an interview this week, Byrd asked why he was questioned just before Monday’s meeting about something that happened 16 months ago.

“Why was it not important back as this subdivision progressed? Why was it not important when I brought all my paperwork in?” Byrd said.

Calls and a text message sent to Ritter by The SNAP this week were not returned.