CLARKSVILLE, TN (NOW CLARKSVILLE) – Several city projects, including a new parking garage and repairs to the existing Cumberland Plaza garage, as well as renovations to the Frosty Morn Building and the Burt Cobb Recreation Center, have been put on hold after City Council members voted Thursday night to refuse nearly $27 million in funding.
The money for the projects was part of a larger budget amendment ordinance that was originally part of the meeting’s consent agenda. He was fired by Ambar Marquis of Ward 5, who argued that it would be irresponsible to provide $25 million to the Downtown Parking Commission without a plan for how they will pay it back.
Marquis’ amendment, which was later amended by DaJaun Little to re-include funding for the Cumberland Plaza Garage, failed 6-6, causing it to fail for lack of a majority.
Wanda Allen, Trisha Butler, DaJuan Little, Wallace Redd, Ambar Marquis and Vondell Richmond voted no. Brian Zacharias, Wanda Smith, Travis Holleman, Stacey Streetman and Mayor Joe Pitts voted yes. All council members were present, with the Ward 11 seat vacant.
A major sticking point for opponents of the budget amendment was the statute of the Parking Commission. Several board members expressed concerns about the commission’s ability to repay the funding and expressed interest in seeing a plan before approving the $25 million.
Marquis said the commission needs to review its parking fee structure, which it says is in critical need of overhaul, and stop “kicking the street.”
Butler questioned the idea of providing a corporate fund with such a large sum and suggested the city consider returning to a city-run parking authority.
“We need parking”
“We need parking,” Holleman said at the meeting. “It’s been talked about for years and years. … If you want downtown to continue to thrive, then this is a necessary step.
Allen asked why, with budget season fast approaching, funding for the parking garage project might not be part of the new budget.
“We need that parking lot downtown and we need to get it done quickly with MPEC (F&M Bank Arena) coming in,” Allen told council members. “Why don’t we wait and do everything at once when we set the budget?”
Chief Financial Officer Laurie Matta told Allen that the longer the project is delayed, the more expensive it will be due to the rising cost of construction.
Other pending projects
Other projects included in the budget amendment included the Frosty Morn construction project, renovations to the Burt-Cobb Community Center, and restoration work at the Smith-Trahern Mansion.
The future of these capital projects is uncertain at this time, although it is likely that a new budget amendment will soon be presented to City Council.