Tribal and city officials celebrate after signing a development agreement for the Nansemond Indian Tribal Association’s Mattanock Town project. From left are City Attorney Helivi Holland, Chief Barry Bass, Mayor Linda T. Johnson, Assistant Chief Earl Bass and City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn.

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Mattanock agreement signed

Published 7:19pm Thursday, January 31, 2013

Suffolk officials reported Thursday evening that a development agreement has been signed with the Nansemond Indian Tribal Association, paving the way for the planned Mattanock Town development.

The agreement marks a crucial step in a years-long process to develop the project, which is planned as an authentic recreation of the tribe’s 17th-century village that stood near the now-transferred site in Lone Star Lakes Park on the Nansemond River. The project also is set to include a museum, gift shop, educational exhibits, hiking trails, powwow grounds and more.

After years of negotiations, City Council voted in November 2010 to direct staff to transfer the 70-acre parcel, but the tribe’s lawyers had trouble with some provisions in the agreement and had advised them not to sign it.

Fed up with the delay, City Council voted Jan. 16 to give the tribe an ultimatum: Sign the agreement by June 30 or risk losing Mattanock Town forever.

City Chief of Staff Debbie George said Thursday evening the signing occurred after a meeting between Chief Barry Bass, Assistant Chief Earl Bass, Mayor Linda T. Johnson and City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn. George did not know how long the meeting lasted.

George added that the agreement was “materially unchanged,” because any changes would have had to be approved through City Council again.

“This project has been a long time coming,” Johnson was quoted as saying in a press release. “We know that with trust and our ability to work together, Mattanock Town will be an overwhelming success.”

Chief Barry Bass was also quoted in the press release.

“We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with the city,” he said. “We look forward to making Mattanock Town a reality. We appreciate the faith that Mayor Johnson and City Council have in the project. We are also thankful for the continued support of the citizens of Suffolk. We will make this a project that not only preserves our heritage but also is something the citizens of Suffolk will be proud to have in their city.”

Bass did not return phone messages Thursday night seeking further comment.

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