Our Opinion: Share your opinion on conference center proposals

News Tribune editorial

After decades of fits and starts, discussion and debate, the Jefferson City Council may make a decision on conference center proposals within the next two weeks.

Before the Nov. 18 meeting when a vote may be taken, however, city officials are offering a number of opportunities for public input. The two developers with pending proposals are scheduled to make presentations at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

Farmer Development LLC of Jefferson City proposes a conference center near Capital Mall, which it owns, and Erhardt Hospitality Group, based in Hannibal, would construct a facility on West McCarty Street near the Truman State Office Building.

In addition:

• Members of the public are invited to share their thoughts at noon Tuesday in the council chambers at City Hall.

• Later that evening, council members will gather to hear from their facilitator, Johnson Consulting of Chicago. Although billed as a closed session, part of the meeting may be open to the public.

• A second public hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 14, also at City Hall.

On repeated occasions, we have lamented the lack of attendance at public hearings. Elected and appointed officials, and interested city residents, have expended much time and energy — and tax dollars for studies — on the conference center issue over the years. The majority of public comment has come from people who either have a vested interest or strong opinion.

Although this is not unexpected, it does not provide decision-makers with an accurate measure of public sentiment. Having a moderate opinion need not translate into a lack of enthusiasm for sharing it.

Council members are ready, willing and eager to hear your opinion about the conference center proposals. Don’t miss what may be your last opportunities.

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