Monday, June 3, 2013
No decision has been made, still, on dissolution of Arts Center of North Texas
The project is jointly owned by Plano, Frisco, and Allen, but all momentum stopped in May 2011 when Frisco voters decided to pull out of the project.
ALLEN More than seven months after plans to dissolve the Arts Center of North Texas were put into motion, the three owner cities have still not come to an agreement over how to best carry out that task.
The ACNT, which was approved by voters in the early 2000s, would have included several performance halls and outdoor sculpture gardens along State Highway 121 in Allen. The project is jointly owned by Plano, Frisco, and Allen, but all momentum stopped in May 2011 when Frisco voters decided to pull out of the project.
Last fall, city councils in Plano and Allen voted on a resolution which would see the land for the project, valued at an estimated $20 million, returned to its donor. Any restricted donations would then be returned to their donors, with the remaining assets divided evenly between the three cities.
While the resolution received unanimous approval in two cities, the Frisco City Council refused put it up for a vote, citing the need for additional information.
Fast forward to today, and Frisco has still yet to hold a vote on the resolution. Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said they still have unanswered questions, but would not go into detail on what those questions were. All he would say is he believes the three cities are working together amicably to come up with a solution that is beneficial to all parties.
Bobby Baggett, the former president of the board of directors who resigned in February but agreed to serve until a replacement was named, said the board is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“We are really waiting on the cities in general,” he said. “It is not just Frisco at this time. They asked us to do some research on the various gifts, which we have done. They have been evaluating that, so now the ball is in all three cities’ courts to come up with a consensus plan as far as what they want to do regarding the dissolution. Hopefully it will not be too much longer.”
Plano City Manager Bruce Glasscock said that regardless of how it appears, progress is being made. He said the cities met about two weeks ago, and future meetings are being planned.
“All three cities are theoretically and conceptually in agreement that dissolution needs to take place,” he said. “The big issue is the assets and how that is done so it doesn’t create any additional burden on anybody.”
One of the questions the cities are trying to answer is how much money they will be able to divide upon dissolution. In April 2012, the cities hired an outside law firm to research the gifts, but that report has not been made public. However, an email from then-Executive Director Mary Vail-Grube to Plano City Attorney Diane Wetherbee dated March 1, 2012 states that up to $940,000 of the $2.4 million in cash on hand may be required to be returned to their donors. Glasscock said he didn’t have an exact number, but said he believes the total amount remaining will be less than $2 million.
Regardless of what the final amount is after restricted donations are returned, the three cities will not be able to recoup their total investment in the project. Each of the cities contributed $2.6 million in bond money, with maintenance and operations fees paid based on the city’s population. Plano, for instance, paid $1.8 million for M&O, while Frisco and Allen contributed $0.86 million and $0.72 million respectively.
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