From Harry L. Jones Sr., Mecklenburg County manager:
The price of living in a free society is never cheap.
Whether it's the lives of soldiers fighting for freedom, or Mecklenburg County government defending an idea we believe is right, there is always a price.
The recent article about the county's $450,000 legal cost to defend its decision to partner with the business community and other government entities to allow the Charlotte Knights to build a baseball stadium uptown is a good case in point.
The innovative plan was developed over several years and includes several complicated land swaps. It was debated many times before its approval by two different boards of county commissioners, the Charlotte City Council and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board . The idea has been widely embraced by the public and the business community as a way to provide families with affordable entertainment and recreation options and generate more uptown Charlotte development.
Two new uptown parks will be developed, including Romare Bearden Park in Third Ward. The school system's aging administrative offices will be moved, generating more open space, and several residential and retail outlets are planned around the baseball stadium and parks.
Over time, the cost to implement this plan will be absorbed by the additional property and sales taxes the resulting growth and development will generate .
As Mecklenburg County manager, my primary concern is to ensure that your government is run effectively and efficiently, and that we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. I feel strongly that by defending the county from these lawsuits, that is exactly what we are doing.
We respect Jerry Reese's right to challenge this plan through the courts. However, as public servants, we have an obligation to defend decisions we believe are in the community's best interest. And while it is certainly onerous to pay $450,000 in legal fees, we would pay a far greater price in the long run by allowing one person to hold the community hostage.