Moving forward on Mattanock

Published 10:44 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It’s not exactly clear why Mattanock Town finds itself back on the agenda of the Suffolk City Council. In June, following an exchange of letters between City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn and an attorney for the Nansemond Indian tribe, it appeared that the city would never agree to part with the land the tribe wants for a re-creation of the village that once graced the banks of the Nansemond River.

Tribal members want to use that re-created village to teach the public about the history of the Nansemonds, about their culture and their ways. The village, they and others believe, would be a great tourist attraction, and it would return at least a small portion of their ancestral lands to descendants of the first residents of the area.

But after years of negotiations, a terse letter from the city’s administration seemed to have put it all out of the tribe’s reach. Despite the tribe’s offer to cut its request from about 100 acres at Lone Star Lakes Park to just 20 acres, members received word that the city would not support their plans.

Something, however, changed between June and September. Where there once had seemed a lack of interest in the plan from the City Council, there is now sufficient interest to earn the tribe a public hearing on the transfer of property. Where once there was insufficient council support for the tribe to win a vote in favor of Mattanock Town, some council members believe such a vote would be successful today.

History might one day reveal what political deals would finally enable the dream of Mattanock Town to become a reality. What horses were traded in return for promises of support could someday become clear.

What’s clear today, however, is that City Council has finally given the plan an objective look, concluding that it at least warrants an airing before the public to see if anyone can reasonably refute the logic behind it. Such a refutation seems unlikely, and it would appear that Mattanock Town finally could be something more than just a vain hope. That obviously would be good news for the tribe, but it’s also good news for the rest of Suffolk.