Two weeks ago, I met in Nashville with members of the State Building Commission, the Comptroller’s office, the Secretary of State and the State Treasurer’s office in an effort to prevent delays with respect to the re-construction of the inn at Paris Landing State Park.
I was against the demolition of the Paris Landing Inn for a number of reasons.
I had concerns about the cost of the project to taxpayers with respect to construction versus renovation as well as the loss of revenue to the surrounding counties, the negative financial impact on nearby businesses and the loss of jobs to district residents.
Additionally, I had concerns about the small size of the proposed new inn and the ability to attract revenue generating conferences to Paris Landing with the available rooms cut in half.
I made numerous efforts to fight the demolition, encouraging renovation over reconstruction.
I wrote and met with Gov. Bill Lee about it. I even made a proposal to then-Deputy Gov. Jim Henry and then Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill (who was subsequently fired) to construct the new inn at a different site on the park property and continue operating the existing inn while the new facility was under construction.
It would have prevented county revenue losses and job losses. However, despite my pleas otherwise, the project was put into place before I became state representative, and we now have a demolished inn.
And I want to do everything in my power to move this project forward as quickly as possible and avoid delays, which will inevitably equate to financial loss to the counties and local businesses.
Luckily, Gov. Lee has approved additional funding to add 25 more rooms to the new inn — bringing the total number of rooms from 65 to 90 — which will assist in attracting small conferences to our area and bringing in more revenue to the counties in the district and perhaps employing additional individuals.
However, we cannot afford delays with the reconstruction process.
The situation at the construction site is such that, because of local soil conditions and weather conditions, if foundation dirt work is not completed before the weather hits in November/December, the entire project could get delayed six to nine months, which could cost the state and local governments hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For all of these reasons, I requested and conducted a meeting in Nashville last week with members of the State Building Commission to ensure that they are aware of my concerns, appreciate the importance to our district of keeping this project on track and will provide assistance in avoiding delays.
Another meeting is scheduled again this week in Nashville between myself, the state architect and the contractor to see what can be done to accelerate the project.
BRUCE GRIFFEY, R-Paris, represents the 75th District, which includes Henry County, in the Tennessee House of Representatives