Concerns arise over Coastal Empire Fairgrounds proposals

Updated: Jan. 28, 2021 at 12:36 AM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -The future of the former Coastal Empire Fairgrounds could be up in the air yet again.

A memo from the Savannah city manager was posted to the city council workshop agenda. He expressed concerns about the proposal process, but Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Estella Shabazz is pushing back.

Savannah City Council unanimously voted to approve three proposals for the former Coastal Empire Fairgrounds last October.

Mayor Pro Tem Estella Shabazz insists that the council followed all of the procedures given to them by the former interim city manager, Pat Monahan.

But now, the current City Manager Micheal Brown has added a memo to this week’s city council workshop agenda that appears to call the process into question.

According to Brown’s memo, the proposals approved by the council included parts that would not be possible to have on the property.

It also says the city did not follow the state’s 90-day request for the proposal review process and must re-issue it.

It puts a really big question mark Into the mind and hearts of some city council members” said Mayor Pro Tem Estella Shabazz. “That may be the city is going to get sued, so I wanted to bring this forward for that.”

In spite of the questions the memo brings up, Shabazz says she wants to move forward. She also says she has discussed the memo and its legality with the city attorney.

“Our city attorney stated that he knew nothing about what Micheal Brown, the city manager, put in this write up,” said Shabazz.

The 67-acre property has mostly gone unused for the past few years.

For a decade, Matthew Thomas has lived next to the property. He would like to see the city build something that will improve the community.

” What we’re trying to do now is to get something to build a community up and let it grow and all,” said Thomas. “Everything is falling down, falling apart. But right now we’re looking for something better in the near future.”

Thomas is also encouraging residents to be patient as the city finalizes a plan to transform the site.

City council will be discussing the memo and the Fairgrounds property at their city council workshop meeting Thursday afternoon.

The city spokesman says the city manager will be providing comments about the fairgrounds property tomorrow at the workshop.

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