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Differing stories emerge on downtown landscaping

story by Aric Mitchell
amitchell@thecitywire.com

Fort Smith Director Pam Weber and Frank Sharum, sub-contractor on the downtown streetscaping project, are not telling the same story.

At night two of city budget hearings (Nov. 15), Weber approached city directors about the possibility of compensating Sharum for landscaping materials he had over-purchased for the streetscaping project from 9th to 13th Streets in the downtown area.

“I know we're tight on funds but last spring I received a call from a contractor (Sharum), who was doing the downtown streetscape,” Weber said. “We had several meetings, and he purchased quite a bit of materials. He got the downtown streetscape project, and we met and came up with a plan and talked, and come to find out, they're designated funds. He said the budget was big enough that he could do all - spruce up what we needed him to spruce up. He made plans to spruce it up, went out and purchased quite a bit and then we found out we could only use it in the east end of the alley.”

Mike Alsup, director of parks and recreation for the city of Fort Smith, said the sub-contractor “hasn't talked to me, and he hasn't talked to the engineer about it,” to which Weber replied, “Well, he's talked to me many times.”

Weber continued: “And I wasn't even involved in it. He just called me because I had done some plantings down there.”

Sharum spoke to Fort Smith Administrator Ray Gosack on Monday (Nov. 19), and his comments appear to directly contradict Weber’s. According to an email from Gosack to city directors and the media, Sharum “reiterated” that he did not request payment for the additional trees that he’d purchased outside of the streetscaping project’s scope.

“Mr. Sharum said the landscaping allowance in the streetscape contract was too much. He said that somehow Pam Weber learned of this and asked about ordering additional trees for other areas of the downtown,” Gosack wrote. “Mr. Sharum went on to say that he realized through conversations with Forsgren (the general contractor on the streetscape project) that the funds for the streetscape project couldn’t be used in other areas of the downtown. He came to this realization several weeks ago when he submitted the landscaping plan for the downtown streetscape to Forsgren. That’s when he realized he would have to find other uses for the additional trees he had ordered, which he has done.”

Gosack continued: “Mr. Sharum is especially upset at the inference that he expected, wanted, or needed the city to find a way to purchase the additional landscaping materials. Mr. Sharum said that while the landscape planning for the downtown streetscape was underway, director Weber called him ‘three, four or five times and asked about the rest of downtown.’ She was expecting Mike Alsup to call Mr. Sharum to arrange for the additional work in the downtown, but Mr. Sharum said he was communicating with the general contractor (Forsgren) and the engineering dept. staff. Forsgren, the engineering dept. staff and Mr. Sharum reached an understanding that the additional work couldn’t be performed under the streetscape contract.”

“Mr. Sharum went on to say that Pam Weber said she was told to re-do downtown Fort Smith,” Gosack added.

Last Thursday Fort Smith Director Kevin Settle chastised the subject as “inappropriate” and told Weber “He (Sharum) shouldn't meet with you. He should meet with the general (contractor) and the city administration, not a director. A director should not be in the middle of this.”

Weber denied she was “in the middle of it,” to which Settle shot back, “But you said you were.”

“He called me about what he could do down there to complement what I had done,” Weber said, implying that Sharum initiated the contacts. Sharum’s comments to Gosack indicate otherwise.

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The City Wire made contact with Weber Monday afternoon at 4:22 p.m. as she was “heading into a meeting.” Follow-up calls Monday evening were not returned.

Weber and directors George Catsavis, Philip Merry and Steve Tyler have voted to add the discussion to the meeting agenda for Tuesday night (Nov. 20).

Five Star Votes: 
Average: 3.7 (12 votes)

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Comments

weber's follies

i would take frank sharum’s word over weber’s claims any day. this one is a no-brainer.

follies and follies

guess everyone is entitled to a folly now and then because kevin settle had his folly with sanitation and the pet lady. gosack has had his share of follies with water tru-ups and uncollected loans so lets give them all a break as long as the follies are not a regular event! we all make mistakes so lets not beat it to death

Just like you

Of course you would try to turn tables to bad mouth your nemesis, Settle. Still cuddled up with the pet lady are you? Give it a rest, old man

wisdom

with age comes wisdom and now that you mention settle, lets talk about the purchase of all those expensive new garbage and sludge trucks. a few extra trees for downtown are pale in comparison to the spending on vehicles that were not really needed for continued efficiency. glad you brought up the discussion of settle and gosack wasteful spending.

Problem with Pamnesia spreads.

..unfortunately it is now impossible to determine whether Ms Weber gave a verbal OK for the extra truckload of plants during her multiple conversations with the private contractor, or if the nursery went for a quantity discount on their own in anticipation of further contracts afterwards. Does it really matter who called who?

webber

Here is the very reason we need to change this city's form of government. We need one chief. Right now we have too many Chiefs and not enough indians.

if I'm Sharum....

I'm at that meeting tonight. You know, because they might want to talk to you on this and either get yourself in trouble for lying or get pam in hot water across the board. Wow. just wow.grab yer popcorn...this one might get entertaining.

Out of Touch/control

Weber's embarrassing, self serving and pompous behavior continues....... Remember attending a City Director Meeting years before she was elected when she went before them to say how special and unique "her" neighborhood was and it deserved to be specially recognized by a sign and gardens...She is so pretentious!

sure it matters.

If she interjected herself into Frank's business to further her pet project, that's worth knowing. It should be easy enough to see who called who by asking one of them to show phone bills.

Weber and MBPS

Look at Weber’s record since taking office. She appears to suffer from a condition similar to Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome (MBPS). MBPS is where a parent hurts their own child in order to get attention. Much like that parent - or even more-so like a firefighter who commits arson - Weber has been creating problems since day-one in order to give her something to do. I sympathize with what appears to be her mental illness, but there is a city to run. Step down, Weber.

puzzling statement

your in-depth medical opinion of pam weber makes me wonder if you are a medical doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or just a crony wannabee city director. if its the later, you could be practicing medicine without a license and if that is your professional analysis of ms weber, "don't quit your day job" conundrum!

The Truth will set your free

If you were at the BOD meeting tonight, more information from Sharum and Weber was discussed. I support both in their goals for Fort Smith and the City of Fort owes Mr. Sharum a public apology and TCW owes both Mr. Sharum and Dir Weber a updated article. The best quote of the night was from Mr. Sharum, If Fort Smith isn't careful it will be the next El Dorado, Arkansas. Nuff said.

BOD

After reading this article and reading the comments and then listening to Mr. Sharum's comments.............This will be the LAST time I read anything that the "city wire" has to say. Mr. Sharum has shown over the years that he is the type citizen that every city needs. Not only am I deleting the city wire from my "favorite list" my company's advertising dollars will be spent elsewhere. I think I will just go buy some plants instead.......

What Did I Miss?

I watched the meeting on TV and did not hear anything from Sharum or Weber exonerating Weber's earlier comments that got this whole mess started. Did you hear something new tonight about Weber's previous statements that I missed?

great comment

great comment john Q! could not help but notice that the city attack dogs were all over weber and the plant man but don't even mention the uncollected 150,000 dollar loan and interest of taxpayer money. they are also silent on the failure of city administration to collect water tru-ups! guess all those screw-ups are ok if you belong to the spenders club!

Trees for Sale

So if I understand all of this correctly, Weber asked the board to pay for trees that weren't available to be used downtown. Why would she try to get the BOD to pay for sommething that wasn't for sale? Who would have pocketed the money? Thank goodness others stepped in to avoid this sham.