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State rejects Park Theatre funding
City plans to refile application
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The state has rejected the city’s $2 million funding request for Park Theatre.
If McMinnville officials intend to hand the reins of the facility over to the Park Theatre Group, taxpayer funds cannot be used.
Rejecting the city’s request to borrow $2 million for Park Theatre renovation was the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund. TMBF, an entity of the Tennessee Municipal League, works closely with city officials to structure cost-effective and flexible borrowing options.
“I regret to inform the Building and Grounds Committee, the Park Theatre Group, and the public that our request to Tennessee Municipal League financing for approval of $2 million in bonds has been denied,” city attorney Tim Pirtle said Tuesday. “We will continue to work with the Park Theatre Group to find a place for its involvement in the activities of the Park Theatre, but the operational control will be maintained by the city.”
Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund representative Linda Mooningham says the city’s request was rejected after it was reviewed by an independent legal counsel that determined the city’s plan to allow Park Theatre Group to manage the facility would not be approved by the state.
The legal finding came from the legal firm of Bone, McAllester & Norton.
Denial of funding puts the city in danger of losing its contract with W&O Construction. At a cost of slightly more than $2 million, the city awarded the project to the company in early October, pending funding approval, and construction was slated to begin by the first of the year.
“The contract with W&O provided that the contract was subject to bond funding approval,” said Pirtle. “That failure of funding would constitute an opportunity for the city to walk away from the contract. However, it equally allows W&O to walk away from the contract. I have no reason to think any builder in this economy would want to walk away from a good contract, but that opportunity is available to both parties.”
Pirtle urged officials to act quickly in contacting the company to make assurances the city will re-file its petition for funding approval and ask the business for an extension.
Tennessee Municipal League normally takes around 45 days to consider funding requests once they are submitted.
In order to help ensure funding approval on the city’s second attempt, Pirtle asked to form a new city department called the Department of Culture, Arts and Heritage. He said that department should be organized, budgeted, and funded in the upcoming budgetary cycle in order to be staffed when the renovation is complete and the theater operational.
The resolution establishing this department would be submitted with the city’s funding request to remove any concerns the state might have regarding who will manage Park Theatre once renovation is complete.
Committee members unanimously voted to re-file the application for funding, as well as recommend a resolution to the board to establish a department that will oversee the facility once complete.