- Real Estate
- Paris Flash
The Paris City Council approved on Monday a proposal by Mayor AJ Hashmi to use an estimated $5.5 million from the recent $45 million infrastructure bond issue to extend water and sewer lines to Cox Field Airport.
The proposal passed 6-1, with District 5 Councilman Matt Frierson voting no.
The mayor, who represents District 7, said the city has $10 million available in bond issue money “that we held back for extension.”
City Engineer Shawn Napier has said the project could be completed in a matter of months at an estimated cost of $5 million, plus another $500,000 for project design.
On that schedule, infrastructure likely would be in place at the airport before the more complex plan of work to replace the hundreds of miles of deteriorating water and sewer lines inside the loop.
“I need more information before I’m willing to commit anywhere from $500,000 to $5.5 million of taxpayer-authorized bond money with no discussion for return on investment. We don’t know what we’re going to get in return,” Frierson said.
“I agree this would be great to have infrastructure at the airport, but we don’t have any economic development planned out there, and that’s quite a cost. Has there been a study on the return on investment on this?” Frierson asked.
To a person, the council has been sympathetic to the plight of 49 residents in the vicinity of the airport who asked unsuccessfully several weeks ago to be disannexed because they were never given city services promised them when they were annexed in 1998 or 1999.
But the real impetus behind the move is to bring infrastructure to the airport, setting up a rigorous recruitment of economic development to the airport.
“Most airports have industrial development and continue to grow. I haven’t seen any grow without having infrastructure,” District 3 Councilman John Wright said.
District 2 Councilwoman Sue Lancaster said: “I think it’s very important to bring these services to Cox Field. Plus, we made a promise to those residents.”
District 1 Councilman Aaron Jenkins said: “I agree with Ms. Lancaster. We need to move forward.”
District 6 Councilwoman Cleonne Drake said: “They were promised services, and I think we have to start taking small steps to get services to these and other people.”
District 4 Councilman Richard Grossnickle said: “I have concern that those who were annexed were not given services, but is this going to open up more requests that we can’t satisfy?”
In a statement to the media after the meeting, Frierson stressed that he is for development of services at the airport as well as fulfilling the promises to those residents made long ago by a prior council.
“But I do think it’s our obligation to ask those questions, do our research, and make decisions based on the entire situation for the community,” Frierson said.
He said he voted against moving forward with the Request for Proposal “because I believe that there was a rush to move forward based on limited information.”
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra