Wednesday, May 26, 2010

City Council action

On Tuesday night the City Council voted to appropriate the $10.5 million to build a restaurant and gift shop at Beale Street Landing.

There were three NO votes (Shea Flinn, Reid Hedgepeth, Kemp Conrad) and one abstention (Wanda Halbert).

Opposition observers saw Conrad's vote as surprising and courageous, since he has been an RDC board member and supporter.

Though they ended up voting YES, several other council members seemed to be troubled and struggling with their decisions. Two of them, Jim Strickland and William C. Boyd, grilled Benny Lendermon at length on his claim that if the City didn't proceed with the project, it would forfeit $8.9 million of Federal money and possibly some State money, too.

Lendermon admitted that the Federal Transportation Department grants were for building the boat dock (the current Phase 3), but City money is being fronted and the Federal reimbursement needs to be applied for. The boat dock is mainly steel work and is being built off site.

But Lendermon seemed to be saying that if the City didn't proceed with Phase 4a (the restaurant), then it would be ineligible to receive the Federal payments on the boat dock. He didn't explain why the Department of Transportation considers a restaurant to be a necessary and essential part of a boat dock. Perhaps it was because no one asked him precisely that question -- and maybe that was his good fortune.

Myron Lowery, a YES vote, made a showy point of telling everyone that he was always in the loop on RDC's budget woes, even though Benny Lendermon had just told the CIP Budget Committee the opposite.

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