The response to the question that will be posed to the Jackson City Council next Tuesday (Oct. 22) is something many people are asking: Is the Jackson Redevelopment Authority still worth having?
Ward 3 Councilwoman LaRita Cooper-Stokes has put forward item No. 34, an order by the city council unauthorizing the JRA.
Technically, the word should be de-authorizing, but you get the message. This conversation should be interesting in light of recent developments with the Farish Street saga and the unanswered questions surrounding the non-existent convention center hotel.
For a quick history lesson, JRA was created during the 1970 legislative session. It’s a seven-member board that has power, under the Mississippi Code of 1972, to establish and construct municipal parking facilities for motor vehicles belonging to members of the general public, and to rent, lease, purchase, or acquire land and property for public purposes (the historic Farish Street district or the land on which the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau now sits, for example).
This may get a bit technical, but it also has the power and authority to rent, sell, convey, transfer, let or lease such facility and related structures or any portion thereof, or any space therein, and to authorize commercial enterprise activities other than the parking of motor vehicles on leased property comprising any part of such parking facilities and related structures, which is what it is doing with the Farish Street Entertainment District and the land on which the new Iron Horse Grill will sit.
Because the JRA board was set up by Mississippi law, it is unclear whether or not the city council even has the authority to do eliminate the quasi-governmental body.
We reached out to all the city council members this morning and, so far, Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber is the only one to comment. He said he is not likely to support the motion.
“What I am in support of is a proposal I’m going to bring forward,” Yarber said, “a motion that will require JRA to involve the (city) council in future, and way earlier on in the process.”
Yarber said he could bring his motion as early as next week.
UPDATE: Ward 4 Councilman De'Keither Stamps responded with a "no comment."