Residents of Jefferson City continue to voice their concerns with the City Council’s proposal for a new conference center.
The Council held its second public hearing on Thursday, to listen to comments on two existing proposals.
The proposals came from two different local companies, the Farmers Holding Company and the Erdhardt Hotels Group.
This hearing specifically focused on the location for the center and the amenities that would be provided there.
Jim Penfold served on the Jefferson City Council from 2007 to 2011. Penfold said the location of the conference center could foster growth in the downtown area.
“[This growth] is really positive but we have to do something to support that,” said Penfold. “I think that’s why I believe that bringing the convention center into the town is good but putting it downtown is what supports our existing business and our activities, the state government activities in particular.”
Several other residents have supported an alternate location for the conference center at the Capital Mall. They said that development in the shopping center would boost revenue from the sales tax and draw in major retailers.
Joe Bednar, an attorney at Spencer, Fane, Britt & Browne in Jefferson City, cautioned council members against beginning the conference center project without the necessary research and public support.
“So I think it’s important for them to take their time,” said Bednar. “There’s no rush, as one of the other presenters pointed out, and [they need to] make sure their team is in place, the process is in place and that’s how they will gain the public trust. So if they have to go to the ballot on an issue, the community understands.”
Bednar questioned the timing of the Council’s proposed plan in light of the recent dismissal of the City Administrator. The Council voted last Monday to immediately terminate Nathan Nickolaus’s employment as the Administrator and is still looking for a replacement.
The Council will host their last hearing about the conference center on Monday, September 23 at 5:30 p.m.