HAMLET — Hamlet resident Kim Lindsey has resigned as both organizer of the city’s Christmas parade and as president of the Seaboard Festival board. The resignations follow a swirl of rumors that have engulfed both Lindsey and her husband, David, as well as city officials.
Early this week, Kim Lindsey informed City Manager Jonathan Blanton that she was resigning as parade organizer. While she was there to deliver that resignation letter, she also apprised Blanton of her resignation as Seaboard president the previous evening. Both resignations, she said Thursday, stemmed from a lack of respect for her work.
“Recent events have forced me to re-evaluate my role as a volunteer in Hamlet,” Lindsey said in the letter to Blanton, Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless and Hamlet City Council and dated Monday. “It is clear … that some members of Council do not feel that I can be trusted to serve the best interest of the community …
“Based on this general lack of confidence, … I will no longer serve as Chair for the Hamlet Christmas Parade.”
As for the Seaboard Festival …
It is separate from the city, although it does bring more than 30,000 people to the streets of Hamlet each year. The festival also donates to city coffers.
Lindsey said Thursday that she had resigned from the festival board “for the protection of the Seaboard (and) to insulate the board from any further embarrassment, any further problems. I think it’s the smart thing to do to protect the group.”
The resignations likely will thrust Lindsey even further into the spotlight at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Rezoning a downtown plot
First, acting as the Board of Adjustments, council members will consider a rezoning request for property Lindsey owns with her husband, Councilman David Lindsey. The Lindseys are asking that a 1.5-acre plot at Vance and Champlain streets be rezoned so it can house an event venue. They wish to deed the $40,000 piece of property to the Seaboard Festival, which is developing plans for a permanent stage and storage area on the site.
The plot sits a few hundred feet from the old A&P parking lot, on which Kim Lindsey — as Seaboard president — told the City Council last August that the festival would build a permanent stage it later would deed to the city.
Backpedaling on that offer sparked a disagreement with council member Jesse McQueen, who complained that Hamlet had spent more than $600 drawing up a contract it never would use. The council ultimately did not ask the Seaboard board to pay the bill.
Questions about grants
Last month, council members voted in a special called meeting to both pay for playground equipment to replace dangerous structures in South Hamlet Park and to seek grant money to cover part of the $22,000 bill. A few weeks earlier, Kim Lindsey had applied for a grant to finance Seaboard Festival activities.
The two grants did not compete with each other — they were submitted to different charities — but both were to be disbursed by the Foundation for The Carolinas, which manages money for many agencies and charities.
McQueen and Councilman JohnathanBuie worried in a series of emails shared with Blanton (and obtained by the Daily Journal under a Freedom of Information Act request) whether David Lindsey had committed an ethical violation by being involved with both grant applications — as a council member married to the Seaboard president.
Buie also wondered about rumors that an unnamed “Hamlet citizen” had tried to sabotage the city’s grant application. A spokesman for the FFTC identified the mystery person as Kim Lindsey and denied she had called the foundation.
The council will deal with the matter of the playground equipment again Tuesday, likely amending its budget to pay the whole bill, having lost its appeal for a grant.
“It’s already been approved, (and) we ordered the equipment,” Councilman Eddie Martin said Thursday of the souped-up jungle gym, which is scheduled to be delivered next week. “We will purchase it without the (help of a) grant.”
A parade half planned
Also on Tuesday’s City Council agenda is what to do with the parade, which has been passed down over the years from the Rotary Club to the Hamlet Business Development Association and, ultimately, to the Lindseys’ nonprofit entity Friends of Hamlet.
The city does have a potential organizer in Hamlet Depot manager Stephanie Thornsbury, also the city’s downtown coordinator. Thornsbury has worked on other city Christmas activities, as well as on the board of the Seaboard Festival, so she is familiar with event planning in Hamlet.
“I hope the city does do (the parade),” council member McQueen said. “It’s something that the public enjoys.”
McQueen declined to comment on either of Kim Lindsey’s resignations.
Council member Martin said the city would have to do “whatever it takes” to keep the parade going.
“I hate that Kim had to resign,” he said. “Kim was very good, … but it’s her choice.”
Council members Buie and WendyMassagee, and Mayor Bayless could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.
What about the Seaboard?
Kim Lindsey stepped aside during this week’s meeting of the festival board. Because not all board officers were present, the remaining members chose no replacement for Lindsey, who remains a board member.
She still manages vendor procurement and said she would work both the festival at month’s end and the parade in December. Lindsey also said she would work with whoever managed the parade and presided over Seaboard to ensure smooth transitions.
“I don’t know … if (resigning) makes a difference,” she said Thursday. “I just felt the this was something I needed to do in case (it would).”
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.