Council to get update on Mattanock impasse

Published 10:08 pm Friday, January 11, 2013

Dancers at the 2012 Nansemond Indian Powwow at Lone Star Lakes Park perform traditional dances. The tribe is trying to obtain the land to create a replica of a historical Indian village, a museum and gift shop and other displays as a tourist attraction. It says the city is stalling on transferring the land.

After City Council members have begun to ask questions about the status of the Nansemond Indian Tribal Association’s Mattanock Town project, city staff members will give an update on its progress at Wednesday’s 4 p.m. open work session.

The tribe hopes to build an authentic replica of a historical Indian village on its ancestral grounds, located in what is now Lone Star Lakes Park near Chuckatuck. The proposed project also would include powwow grounds, a museum and gift shop, a tribal center, nature trails and reburial grounds.

In November 2010, City Council agreed to direct staff to transfer about 70-90 acres of land to the tribe. But after more than two years, the transfer still hasn’t happened. Both parties say the other is the one holding up the process.

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The major sticking point is the development agreement. The tribe and its lawyers believe the agreement represents a long-term lease, not a transfer. But the city says the proposed agreement is what the tribe consented to and what City Council approved in its 2010 action, and any changes would need to be presented to the council for another vote.

“If they bring the city manager that development agreement on Monday, they’re going to get the keys to the park on Tuesday,” Deputy City Manager Patrick Roberts said Friday afternoon.

Dot Dalton, facilitator working with the tribe for the project, said she believes city staff are biased against the project.

“We’re no further ahead than we were two years ago when we got the vote,” she said Friday. “They’re trying to stall it, I think, indefinitely.”

Meanwhile, the project has a board that has been meeting regularly, she said. It is making “fantastic progress” on developing promotional materials including a logo, letterhead, informational pamphlets and more. A grant researcher also is working on funding opportunities, Dalton said.

But all that makes no difference if the tribe doesn’t have the land.

“I think 2013 is long enough,” she said. “We have done everything.”

Roberts said the accusation that the city is trying to stall the project is unfair, adding that the city spent $25,000 on a boundary survey for the project immediately after council’s 2010 decision. More money was spent to redraw a portion of the survey at the request of the tribe, he added.

“That was a big effort on our part,” he said. “If we were trying to foot-drag or not move this forward, we would not have gone through all that time and expense.

“We are anxious to see it move forward,” he added. “It’s an added feature and attraction that we don’t have. We don’t have this type of offering for visitors or the public.”