Championship Park is dead
We got our $40 million back.
By the time Plant City Mayor Rick Lott presented the proposal for Jim Norman’s giant sports complex at 10:30 a.m. today, it was clear that there was not anywhere near enough political support to pass the project, so Lott fell back to Plan B. Admitting that there were too many unanswered questions, he said he could not ask other elected officials to vote for the project at this time, so he asked, instead, for them to form another task force to study the project some more.
His move was anticipated by the dozen citizens who spoke against the project before his presentation. Each one, while presenting many intelligent arguments against the project, also asked the commissioners to stop spending our money on studying this project and vote it down today so we could release the $40 million for other things this county needs.
Only two citizens spoke in favor of Championship Park, one of whom admitted to a vested interest as owner of 400 acres nearby which he would like to develop.
All the commissioners made long speeches, but I liked the citizen comments best. Limited to 3 minutes each they were articulate, intelligent and passionate. The transcript should be online tomorrow, if you want to see what everyone had to say. In a nutshell: everyone likes kids and sports, but thinks this is the wrong project in the wrong place at the wrong time—well, everyone but the guy who wants to develop nearby, some other guy, and Jim Norman, who expressed his deep disappointment with his fellow commissioners who left him flapping in the breeze on this one (see the transcript tomorrow).
By the end of the discussion, 6 of the 7 county commissioners had indicated they would not support Championship Park in an up or down vote today. So commission chair Jim Norman passed the gavel to vice-chair Ken Hagan, in order to make a motion to follow Rick Lott’s Plan B, which came with a recommended list of people (stuffed with supporters) for a new Task Force to continue studying the idea, thus keeping Norman’s pet project alive, and keeping our $40 million locked up. (Keep in mind we’ve already spent some $300,000 studying this over two years.)
The motion died for lack of a second.