ear (2006-40)

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Council Must Sign Off      

Does Icon Have Future?

Ka-Ching!

Empire Strikes Back

Bug in Our Ear

Council Must Sign Off      

Steering clear of the ambiguous “blighted” as a reason for condemnation, the plan uses dilapidation, or the willful neglect and disrepair of a property. Property owners will also be advised early in the process they have a right of appeal to City Council in the event of any eminent domain case. The city also says eminent domain will be a last resort in the event of an absolute refusal to improve a property.

The appeal to elected members of City Council was requested by Knox County Commission members, put forward by Commissioner Greg “Lumpy” Lambert , before the county would sign off on the use of tax increment financing for the project.  Then the same provisions were passed by City Council. In past redevelopment projects, City Council authorized KCDC to handle condemnations without returning to Council for final disposition.

Does Icon Have Future?

 City staff is expected to present Council with three options and the costs of each: 1. Completely restore it. 2. Restore part of it.

An amphitheater would better serve the World’s Fair Park on the South Lawn, an argument for replacing it. There is nostalgia for one of the last reminders of the fair, aside from the Sunsphere, an argument for keeping it.

Cost figures will be compiled for Council’s consideration. Previous studies have generally concluded restoration is iffy, but no one has been willing to expend the political capital to tear it down. (One of the first issues to address: if you put a new top on a tent, is it not a new tent?)

Ka-Ching!

The influx of fans also helped the fledgling downtown retail section. We hear the new Mast General Store got a lot of visits from fans, following onto one of the best openings ever for a Mast store. The store does a brisk business on Sundays as well. Knoxville hopes it will spark retail development downtown and, along with ticket sales at a new movie theater, generate special tax revenues to pay off convention center debt. A portion of state sales tax can be kept by the city if generated within the downtown business district.

Empire Strikes Back

The series, based on interviews with former Ragsdale employee Tyler Harber, have been a “low profile” embarrassment for the administration but largely ignored by local media. Ragsdale said he doesn’t read the Halls Shopper , just as he doesn’t read the National Enquirer and the Globe tabloids. He characterized the Shopper as an every week “attack Mike Ragsdale” publication. Ragsdale also said the sheriff’s department has had Tyler Harber ’s computer for 20 months and no case has been brought, and he suggested the length of time also demonstrates District Attorney Randy Nichols doesn’t feel there is any reason to pursue the matter. Harber has alleged he didn’t do any work in his county job but was a political operative for Team Ragsdale, which Ragsdale said is simply not true.

Ragsdale also characterized sheriff’s department officer Lee Tramel as a political adviser to Sheriff Tim Hutchison and referred to him as “a former produce salesman.” Ragsdale said the Harber story is remaining alive due to a whisper campaign by Tramel.

A call by the Knox County Commission for an investigation into Harber’s allegations was delayed this month because it would have required 13 (two-thirds majority) votes to pass, since the item was not on the agenda. Should the item be put on the agenda for the next meeting it will require only a simple majority of 10 votes to pass. Supporters of the measure contend they have at least 12 votes to call for an investigation.

Other commissioners think the issue may die, because in the final analysis the votes aren’t there and no commissioner wants to bring the resolution or make the initial motion.

© 2006 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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