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Event center talks continue

Sara McManamy-Johnson sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:34 PM

City officials plan to meet with county commissioners and school board members to discuss plans for a proposed entertainment district and event center.

“We plan to invite them to come in if they want to and tell them what we have planned [for the Cumberland Center Development District],” said Mayor Philip Craighead. 

Councilors were set to vote Tuesday on the second reading of a measure to establish a Cumberland Center Development District of about 257 acres and to create a fund for the future development of a multipurpose event center at the heart of the district.

According to Mayor Philip Craighead, a private developer owning about 165 acres of the district would hand over title to 20 acres for the city to build the event center in exchange for the city adding infrastructure to the property.

Council delayed its final vote until councilors could talk with county commissioners and county school board members.

As part of the plan, the city would seek a collaboration with Wilson County and Wilson County Schools to help fund the proposed event center. Each entity would contribute sales tax dollars generated within the district to the fund.

Neither the county nor the school system has yet formally agreed to participate, though.

“Being there are two other public entities involved, I would like to get their input,” said Councilor Fred Burton.

Councilor Kathy Warmath said she would also like to wait to see what the county is considering regarding its planned Expo Center, which is set to be discussed Wednesday evening.

“Until I see what the county will reveal…then I don’t know what they have to offer,” said Warmath.

Others have apparently voiced confusion about the two facilities also, according to Craighead.

“With the issue of the county [Expo] Center and what they’re looking at, people just kind of seem to get them confused with what one was doing and has,” said Craighead. “I felt it was best to pull back, let the county go on do their thing and we’ll look at this again in January.”

Craighead said he hopes to have a work session with city council, the Wilson County Commission and the Wilson County Board of Education Jan. 9, followed by a public forum Jan. 13.

The dates are still tentative, but Craighead said he hopes to finalize them by Monday.

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