Texarkana Crossroads Business Park Faces Scrutiny

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Jul. 22, 2013 12:00 am  

In 2007, Texarkana City Manager Harold Boldt believed it was his job to get some development started in the southwest Arkansas city.

Six years later, Crossroads Business Park adjacent to Interstate 30 is bristling with hotels, restaurants and a nearly completed convention center and water park. But Boldt is gone, and he’s left behind a trail of questions regarding the city’s handling of the development.

The questions began when Dennis Young, a lifelong resident of the city and a former member of the Texarkana Board of Directors, heard about a last-minute meeting of the city board in January.

At the meeting, Boldt was asking the city board for more money for the convention center and water park. “Due to several factors, the city does not have the cash available to fund our costs at this time,” Boldt told the board in a letter.

He asked the city to increase a $487,000 short-term note to $1.06 million and to pledge sales tax revenue and additional franchise fees to pay the additional debt. He also announced he would ask the city’s Advertising & Promotion Commission to contribute $500,000 to Texarkana Hotels LLC, the private company belonging to Hiren Patel, an investor Boldt brought in when he realized the city would never be able to pay for all that development itself.

All of this piqued Young’s interest. In his eyes, Boldt was holding the city hostage. He called up his friend Tom Cabaniss, a former CPA and 40-year resident of Texarkana, and the pair began procuring documents related to the development.

Findings

The documents that Young and Cabaniss requested revealed some eyebrow-raising details about the project. Here are a few:

• The city of Texarkana has very little ownership of the project. The convention center, water park and much of the land belong to Patel’s company. The city owns mostly unoccupied land, some of which will be used for parking lots.

• More than $6 million in A&P funds have been pledged for the project, but state law dictates that cities may provide A&P funding for the operation of such projects if the city owns an interest in the project.

• When the city issued a $9.7 million building permit to Texarkana Hotels LLC in February 2012, Boldt waived fees of $15,135 without approval from the city board. The city then paid the state’s $1,000 portion of the fees.

• Over the course of the project’s lifespan, Boldt had often approached the city board with last-minute requests for more money or changes to the project’s budget and usually claimed that the project would die if the changes weren’t made.

 

 

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