If a Board can’t meet regularly, with a quorum, is there a problem?
This article also contains opinion.
Members of the press outnumbered board members in attendance at Clarksdale’s Quality of Life commission meeting on Tuesday. Without a quorum no business was conducted, but city attorney Melvin Miller said he expects plans for the proposed Piggly Wiggly grocery store, hotel and water park to be completed before the board’s next meeting in two weeks.
Construction plans are alleged to be moving ahead, but Miller was unsure whether the land had been purchased and said “probably not”; he also said the urban renewal bonds have not gone to market. In March of 2018 the Quality of Life commission signed contracts with Piper-Jaffray to issue urban renewal bonds to finance the sports and recreation complex and to buy approximately 85 acres of land from Hopson-Nance LLC for $1.14 million.
Notes from ClarksdaleNews:
We all want to see anything new come to Clarksdale that’s good, that offers good jobs, and helps our people move forward. We also don’t want to get our hopes up for something that is reported to happen, that doesn’t. In proper positive spirit, here’s some things to consider, and a few questions to ask:
At least three City Commissioners have not seen a feasibility study for the project at all. Two of these indicate that no bonds have been sold, and that “nothing really seems to be going on at all.”
Press questions sent to Piper-Jaffray, the company signed to issue the urban renewal bonds, have not been answered, and have been met for more than 2 months with no response. The questions to them were: have any bonds been sold, if so how many, and can we see a copy of the bond sales package?
The purchase option contract on the land for the Sports Complex expired months ago. A family member that owns the land indicates that a new purchase option contract was supposed to be in their possession, but that it is not in their hands yet, though they expect it. When told that we wish them good luck on selling their land, “we’re not holding our breath” was the response.
Piggly Wiggly Alabama was also contacted by one local media outlet shortly after their appearance, with their pig mascot, at a City of Clarksdale Board Meeting. Two emails were sent to the CEO containing confirmation questions on Piggly Wiggly constructing a new store on the Sports Complex site. The response was, “I can’t talk about that right now.” Another media outlet asked a similar question within Piggly Wiggly Alabama, and the response was, “ask Dwan.”
Are we to believe that Piggly Wiggly is to make a $4.5 million construction bet on a new grocery store on land that is not owned… that is awaiting a million dollar plus urban renewal bond offering that has not happened yet, with no bonds even issued for sale? At best, any possible Piggly Wiggly agreement contract would have to at least be contingent on the Quality of Life Commission owning the land. Clarksdale citizens have a right to see that contract, if it exists.
The Quality of Life Commission met only once during the 3-month tenure of City Attorney Bill Gresham. They met a few weeks ago with a quorum, but did not get a quorum on Tuesday as discussed above. One member has resigned, and has not been replaced as of this article.
What does any of this mean? Not much has happened, that’s apparent. Does it mean the project won’t happen? Not necessarily, but it does show that a lot of talk has happened, and much work still has to be done, and much documentation is necessary for us to keep our hopes up.
With documentation of a bonding package, that bonds have been issued, and full disclosure of any and all binding agreements for any and all relevant Sports Complex entities and partners, which the public has the right to see from the City official that serves us, then we can properly cheer, and dutifully support the official(s) that gave us real-talk good news.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, as new City Attorney Melvin Miller said, that documentable plans and agreements for every bit of this did appear in two weeks. We’d be planning bronze statues for all involved, wouldn’t we?