City hall location creating fiery political spat in Central
CENTRAL - A heated political fight is brewing between at least three Central councilmembers and Mayor David Barrow over where the new proposed city hall should be located.
Mayor Barrow said he asked to be part of the discussions last year but was intentionally left out.
It involves property the city used to own. It sold the property back to the school system three years ago for $285,000. Now, the city wants it back and is prepared to spend four times that amount.
"The previous administration had purchased the two acres for 285k and sold it back at the very end of their last term to the school board for the same 285k," Barrow said. "There is an item on the agenda tomorrow for an exchange of value for that same two acres of nearly $1.25 million."
Barrow said he was so concerned last year he began asking to attend meetings.
"I asked to, but I was not allowed to be included in those meetings," Barrow said.
At least one councilman told WBRZ the mayor was not invited to the meetings that were held because the mayor had expressed that he did not want the school board site for the new city hall.
Councilman Dave Freneaux said the spot at corner of Hooper and Sullivan roads is one of the only remaining corners left in Central and has high visibility. Freneaux said it's an opportunity to do something positive there.
Mayor Pro-tem Wade Evans said this is nothing but politics. He says all he wants to do is make sure taxpayer money is spent wisely. Evans said he plans to introduce a resolution Tuesday at the council meeting that would essentially put the negotiations back in the mayor's hands.
"It's a way of circumventing the branches of government," Barrow said. "I even stated at the meeting and read an attorney general's opinion that council members do not have the authority to negotiate contracts, but it was done anyway."
Within the past three months, an appraisal was done at the site. It is now valued at $740,000. Council members say they had worked on an exchange with the school board as the city came into $1 million in state money secured for a Central Sports Complex. Plans have that money being spent on a parking lot at the Central Wildcat Football Stadium. It would leave city hall there with 25 percent of the spots.
"As mayor, I cannot go along and will not go along with that kind of deal," Barrow said.
The council meets Tuesday night.
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