Liens, Looming Audit Put Texarkana Business Park Under More Scrutiny

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 12:00 am  

Since Texarkana rehired its controversial city manager, the financial problems dogging Harold Boldt’s economic development projects have only deepened.

The issues surround the Crossroads Business Park, a development intended to be a magic bullet for the Arkansas city’s economy that often struggles to compete with its oversized Texas twin.

The park includes numerous private business entities, but two in particular, a Holiday Inn with an attached convention center and the Holiday Springs Water Park, have received millions of dollars of public money, most of it funneled to Dr. Hiren Patel, a physician and private investor from the Texas side of the state line.

Patel, recently honored by the city Board of Directors as a bringer of commerce, is facing a growing list of contractor liens, and Boldt is facing a state audit that will scrutinize his handling of city funds.

Boldt, who declined to comment for this story, granted Patel about $6 million to develop the convention center and water park.

Patel got a pretty good deal out of it: He’d receive $150,000 each year for 15 years to maintain the convention center and $250,000 each year for 20 years to operate the water park. He is also to be refunded the city’s 3 percent A&P tax on hotel receipts and its 2 percent A&P tax on prepared foods.

All told, Patel’s company would receive about $9 million over 20 years.

But Wayne Smith, the city director designated as mayor, wasn’t satisfied with how Boldt communicated with both him and the city’s board of directors about the project, resulting in Boldt’s firing in March 2013. Boldt received a $162,000 settlement, representing about a year’s pay plus accrued and unused paid leave.

Liens and a Lawsuit

Following Boldt’s firing, the convention center and water park opened for business.

In November, Texarkana’s Ward 2 director, Laney Harris, presented Patel with a state proclamation recognizing Patel for his contributions to the city.

Later that month, the Texarkana Gazette reported that several liens had been filed against Patel’s company, Texarkana Hotels LLC. The liens claimed he owed around $1 million to contractors.

 

 

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