Friday, December 4, 2009

Council members react to Mayor Bowers Market building rhetoric

Market building food court

Market building food court

Thursday’s reception honoring volunteers and the announcement of Stan Breakell as 2009 Citizen of the Year also included some buzz about Mayor David Bowers’ press conference earlier in the day. Bowers repeated what he had said earlier, “I’ve had it with the administrations handling of the Market building … they’re not going elsewhere – not on my watch.”

He went on to say he had read in The Roanoke Times that the farmers and Market vendors were contemplating a move to Tanglewood Mall.

As the crowd dispersed Bowers and City Manager, Darlene Burcham huddled in a long serious discussion. Bowers would not comment on what they discussed. Neither would he commit to asking that any further plans for the building be delayed until after a new city manager climbs aboard. Bowers will bring up the topic at Monday’s 2:00 council meeting.

Several Council members wondered how he had suddenly just learned about Tanglewood wooing the vendors and farmers. It had surfaced as far back as at least November 13.

Vice-Mayor Sherman Lea confirmed council has known for awhile that Tanglewood was interested in the vendors. He admitted that each council member has thrown out different ideas. “We have not sat down and given the city manager any direction … we’re all over the place,” said Lea. He defended the city manager saying “we can’t hold the city manager accountable right now” – she is probably thinking, “what do you want me to do?”

On the 24/7 accelerated work schedule Lea had purposed at the last council meeting he said that Mayor Bowers and Councilman Trinkle think it is a good idea. The Center in the Square construction throws another wrinkle into the mix said Lea.

The question council will have to resolve “Is the [added] cost worth losing them?”

Lea does think the whole situation could have been handled better as does Council member Anita Price. Price said “if you don’t have a thought-out game plan you become frustrated …not a whole lot of jumping up and down – we really need to sit and figure out a solution that would be viable and feasible.”

Council member David Trinkle lamented on the lack of a plan as well saying, “he has talked with several contractors who said they could phase it in.” Trinkle as an owner of real estate throughout the city thinks that “there is plenty of real estate all around downtown that [could be] small restaurants to rent … [Tanglewood] that’s their prerogative … that’s the free market at work.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Business, Roanoke City Politics

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