Council asks for Mattanock Town plan of action

Published 11:02 pm Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Suffolk City Council voted to recommence talks with the Nansemond Indian Tribal Association about the tribe’s hope to build a model Indian village in the city.

A 6-2 vote by council, with members Leroy Bennett and Charles Brown voting against it, authorized city staff to contact the tribe and ask them to bring a plan of action to the city within 60 days.

Talks between the Nansemond tribe and the city have been going on for several years. The tribe wants land at Lone Star Lakes Park to construct a model Indian village, which will be used to educational and tourism purposes. However, several delays and a failed vote on the transfer of the land in October 2007 have frustrated the plan.

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The tribe needed a “supermajority,” or six of seven council members, to vote for the plan to transfer the land. The motion failed because not enough “yes” votes were received.

The city and the tribe then began exploring a lease option. However, talks about the lease stalled last year, and city council requested an update on the negotiations in December.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Vice Mayor Curtis Milteer made the motion to have the tribe submit a plan of action to the city within 60 days.

If a vote to transfer the land were to come up again, the tribe still would need six votes – even though council has an eighth member now – to get the land. However, only five votes, a simple majority, would be needed to authorize a long-term lease of the land.

Councilmen Charles Parr and Joe Barlow expressed support for bringing up the possibility of a transfer of the land again. Councilmen Brown and Bennett, however, disagreed.

“Whatever you do for one, are you prepared to do it for others?” Brown asked.

Bennett objected to contacting the tribe because, he said, it was the tribe who initially stopped responding to city requests.

“They should be the one to come back and give us a proposal,” he said. He also objected to the tribe’s having rejected another parcel of land the council was offering.

Barlow, however, said he believed the Lone Star Lakes site was the right place for the project.

“It’s an excellent piece of property,” he said.