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City to get Park Theatre update

McMinnville officials will be getting an update Tuesday night on the Park Theatre during the regular session of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
Mayor Jimmy Haley says he is meeting with the architect prior to the board meeting.
“I would like to know where we stand in the process,” said Haley. “I’m meeting with the architect earlier that afternoon.”
The city is in the beginning stages of the project. The beginning stages determine what the city wants in the finished product. Once the scope of the work is done, documents can be drawn so the city can go out for bids.
Haley says he wants to know how close the city is to moving from designing plans to bidding the project.
“I want to know how close we are to going out for bids,” he said. “Until we get bids, we do not know how much renovation will cost.”
While a cost estimate put the project at $2 million, the actual cost will be unknown until bids are received from companies interested in contracting to do the work.
Haley says he will be assigning new members to the Park Theatre Committee to continue discussions about a management agreement between the city and the nonprofit Park Theatre Group once the project is complete.
The committee was assigned by the former mayor Dr. Norman Rone. It consisted of Rone and former alderman Everett Brock, and Park Theatre Group members David Marttala and Steve Phillips with Jeff Golden as chairman. Rone and Brock are no longer with the city.
“I would like the city to figure out a management agreement with the Park Theatre Group,” said Haley.
When questioned about objections from the Comptroller of the Treasury’s office regarding a contract between the two, Haley stated, “Comptrollers never said we couldn’t. Some individuals said we couldn’t, but comptrollers did not. I believe there is a way to work out an agreement. If that’s the wishes of the board, that’s what we are going to do.”
McMinnville officials have been trying to work out a financial agreement between the city and Park Theatre Group since last year when Marttala came before the board saying the group had exhausted all avenues and couldn’t obtain financing for renovation.
In August of 2011, the board directed city attorney Tim Pirtle to work with Marttala on a lease agreement with the group with the city obtaining financial backing necessary for renovation. Pirtle suggested a 20-year lease to the group with “rent” matching the annual payments on the debt incurred by the city for financing renovation.
The suggestion was squashed by Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund on preliminary approval. In a letter to the board, Pirtle said “financing violates the lending of credit provision of the state constitution.”
Under Section 29 of the Constitution of Tennessee, it states, “The credit of no county, city or town shall be given or loaned to or in aid of any person, company, association or corporation, except upon an election to be first held by the qualified voters of such county, city or town, and the assent of three-fourths of the votes cast at said election. Nor shall any county, city or town become a stockholder with others in any company, association or corporation except upon a like election, and the assent of a like majority.”
Pirtle says the legal coordinator of the TML Bond Fund said the proposal would not obtain the state’s approval for financing.
In May 2012, Pirtle sat down with an attorney for the Comptroller’s office and presented a proposed agreement that would have allowed Park Theatre Group to lease the property from the city and operate the facility once renovated. After the debt service for renovation is paid in full, the city would sell the property to the group for $1.
Pirtle said, during that meeting, the comptroller’s attorney said the city could enter into a management agreement with a company, association or corporation, but only after it opens the project for bids.
“He told us if the city enters into a management agreement for Park Theatre, it would have to use a competitive bidding process,” Pirtle said. “The city cannot use tax dollars to renovate the building, then arbitrarily select a group to operate it.”
A fair bidding process means the Park Theatre Group would have to submit a bid and be considered among other applicants, with the agreement going to the best offer.
The update of Park Theatre will be given during the board’s regular session at 7 p.m.


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