This article is a political statement by Bill Summers, candidate for Clarksville Mayor.
Since beginning his campaign last November, the redevelopment and growth of downtown Clarksville has been one of Councilor Bill Summers visions and goals.
“The Urban Park Concept has become one of the focal points in the downtown redevelopment process. It is an opportunity that has arisen and action is needed now. In March, I announced my support of the project,” Summers stated.
The Two Rivers Company (TRC), a non-profit organization created by the city whose mission is to find, research and develop revitalization projects in the downtown and riverfront areas of Clarksville, has been primarily responsible for the development of this concept. For years the TRC had no budget to carry out its mission until I provided a funding method in last year’s budget that did not add any costs to the city’s bottom-line. The Clarksville Mayor appoints TRC board members and the city and other organizations provide funding. Mayor McMillan is a voting member of the TRC board.
The TRC has strongly stated that the Urban Park concept needs to be explored and become a reality.
“It is the project that could be the beginning of a rebirth of downtown Clarksville after years of lip service and excuses. The TRC Board asked the city to take action as an endorsement for the potential purchase of the Urban Park site,” said Summers.
Councilman Jeff Burkhart, as a builder and developer, had to abstain from voting due to his conflicting interests as a public official and a developer.
Mayor McMillan stated she was in favor of supporting the TRC, but did not support the need to place the Urban Park concept on the capital project list. McMillan also stated there was no official plan proposed by the TRC and the project needed more study.
Summers spoke in favor of the amendment to support the work performed by the TRC. “Without question, downtown redevelopment can become an “economic engine” for our city, benefiting all city residents,” Summers stated.
When it came time to vote on the amendment to add the Urban Park Concept project to the capital projects budget, the council decision was a 6-yes/5-no vote with Burkhart abstaining. Council votes on such amendments require a simple majority to pass; and the Mayor has the option to vote or not vote. Councilman Burkhart’s abstention still left the Mayor with the option to vote or not vote and affect the outcome. She cast a “no” vote resulting in a tie, and so the amendment failed.