Columbus Council at its Tuesday meeting is expected to approve an agreement with the Muscogee school board to swap property, rip up asphalt and plant land around the Columbus Public Library.
Council’s 5:30 p.m. meeting by four hours will be preceded by a press conference at which plaintiffs in a lawsuit over building a park at the library will make an announcement.
Josh McKoon, one of the attorneys representing them, said at least three of his six clients are expected to attend the 1:30 p.m. conference in the library’s CB&T Room: Michael Herndon, Sam Rawls and Lucius Morton. Barbara Rothschild will represent her late husband, David Rothschild II, who died Nov. 10, said McKoon, who was unsure whether two other plaintiffs, Nadine Moore and Harry Brill, would be there.
All sued the city and school district claiming voters were promised a park in Columbus’ 1999 library sales tax campaign, and city leaders reneged on that pledge.
Rawls said last week he was withdrawing from the suit, having been told the new agreement is the best deal park proponents can get.
Yet to be built near the library on the public property east of Rigdon Road and south of Macon Road — once the site of Columbus Square, the city’s first shopping mall — are three city government facilities, a swimming complex, a citizen services center and a parking garage. The 1999 sales tax paid to purchase the mall property and build the $50.4 million library. Once that was finished, the rest of the land was turned over to the school district, which with operating funds bought adjacent property formerly occupied by a Sears store. That became the site of a new school administration building.
The school district agreed in 2007 to give the city 6 acres for its projects. What would happen to the rest of the property, including 5 acres south of Lindsay Creek once occupied by a movie theater, remained unresolved.
Here are the provisions of the agreement council will consider today:
— To the 6 acres given the city for the natatorium, service center and parking garage, the school district will add 3 acres for a total of 9.
— The city in turn will give the school district the 5 acres where the movie theater used to be.
— About $1 million left in 1999 sales tax revenue will pay to remove asphalt from the remaining 14 acres, implement erosion-control measures and seed the soil.
The school board is expected to approve the agreement at its meeting on Jan. 30.