Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson is making a final push to convince City Council members to rescind $1.5 million they have offered in support of a county soccer and aquatic facility near the intersection of interstates 10 and 65.
In a letter addressed to Council President Gina Gregory and released Tuesday, one day before the council is set to vote on a resolution giving the money to the county, Stimpson wrote there are still too many unanswered questions about the complex for the city to move forward with support.
“During the public discourse in August and September 2014, I publicly stated my preference was for the city to fix what is broken and in disrepair within our parks rather than commit resources to building a new park,” Stimpson wrote. “The questions posed in September of 2014 still remain unsatisfactorily answered.”
The questions to which Stimpson referred in the letter were mostly about total funding for the complex and the expectation of future city funding. He also questioned the validity of the most recent county-funded study on the proposed project.
“A bona fide study should be done by an independent organization who has not explicitly expressed a desire to manage the facility they are studying,” he wrote. “Such a company should not have a vested interest in the future of the project.”
Stimpson has previously proposed $1.9 million in park improvements citywide, but has said the projects will only get done if the council changes its mind about soccer complex funding.
Several of those improvements are on Wednesday’s City Council agenda, along with a resolution to participate with the county in purchasing the soccer complex land.
In the letter, Stimpson said he supports soccer, but also supports improvements to the city’s 68 parks. He added that the proposed soccer complex is just another example of a “large-scale, high-priced, government-driven” amenity project.
“We have too many of them in our city that were oversold and are now underperforming and creating significant drains on our fiscal resources,” Stimpson wrote. “As stewards of the citizen’s money, it is incumbent upon us to require more due diligence before committing to these types of projects.”
The regular meeting is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. with a pre-conference meeting at 9 a.m.
Last week, Hudson and Commissioner Merceria Ludgood approved a memorandum of understanding to send the Mobile City Council requesting to hold its $1.5 million pledge in escrow until the land purchase for the soccer complex could be finalized. Commissioner Jerry Carl requested that his name be removed from the memo.
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