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WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Blackburn's River City dream must be private

Former Mayor J. Gilmer Blackburn's dream of a first-class marina and river development to draw vacationing families to Decatur suffered badly from a counterproposal.

It's not that River City would be inferior to River Country. It's the money.

A City Council that took office preaching austerity wasn't likely to choose a project that would cost the city money over one that would be dollars in the bank.

The former mayor's concept also suffers from the realization that he and other investors stood to profit financially from the portion of the river-theme development built on private property.

Thus, without comment and faced with spending close to $700,000 for more planning, council members followed Mayor Don Kyle's recommendation Monday night and essentially killed what developers said would be a $173 million economic development for the city.

Only part of the plan would encompass Point Mallard land as the site for the marina. But without the marina the village of floating replica steamboats as overnight accommodations would the compromised.

Council members terminated an agreement that gave Mr. Blackburn exclusive rights to explore development. Council action doesn't necessarily mean that River Country, a proposal by local insurance executive Rex Rankin III, gains momentum now.

The action should simply mean that the city isn't going to invest money in a project that isn't a sure thing.

Still, there is private land that is apparently available if Mr. Blackburn wishes to modify his plan and if he finds suitable investors for the fleet of 25 steamboats that would double as hotel rooms and river-going vessels, the more than 200 waterfront and other units and 57 storefronts.

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