[The “String of Pearls”] concept was first sold to Mobile during the Arthur Outlaw and Mike Dow regimes and passed along by the Sam Jones regime, now to the Sandy Simpson regime. However, anyone who purchases pearls knows to put them into their mouth to see if they are smooth against your teeth.
Mobile’s “String of Pearls” has shattered in our mouth into millions [of] tax bits, bleeding Mobile’s tax revenues! But let’s count them just to remind ourselves:
• Mobile Government Plaza — No money recovered from architects, engineers or builders for leaky roof. Atrium was wasted space, a significant heating and cooling expense. The building’s expansive roofline is architecturally at odds against Mobile’s traditional skyline. It’s very expensive real estate for county and city offices.
• Convention Center — Operated by an outside management company, never been profitable to Mobile. A yearly debt on Mobile’s tax revenues.
• Civic Center — Profitable when operated by the city of Mobile, now operated by the same outside management company as the Convention Center. Now being stripped of most of its business to feed the Convention Center. Another expense to Mobile’s tax revenues.
• GM&O Transportation Hub — Never fully occupied, drain on Mobile’s tax revenues from the renovation completion.
• Hank Aaron Stadium — Has never paid full rent, another drain on Mobile tax revenues.
• Mardi Gras Park — One of 82 parks and recreation areas (and counting) in Mobile that are not well attended and expensive to Mobile’s tax revenue and manpower to maintain.
• Mobile, Alabama Cruise Ship Terminal — Operational for a short-term, then vacant and now operating under a not hard-and-fast contract. Another drain on Mobile’s tax revenues.
Now the city of Mobile has obtained a $125,000 grant to design a railroad depot for downtown Mobile. And let’s face it, a viable, active, long-term railroad system through Mobile is “iffy” at best! What about using the vacant GM&O station? It can be made operational a lot for less money.
Eugene A. Talbott
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