Northport Makes Last-Minute Plea to Meet with Kentuck Leaders Before Vote
Facing the increasingly likely possibility that the one-of-a-kind Kentuck Festival of the Arts might leave its longtime home in Northport, city council president Jeff Hogg made a last-minute plea Monday morning to keep negotiating.
As the Thread has reported extensively, organizers of the Festival announced last month that they were considering planning the 2024 event somewhere other than Kentuck Park, where it has been held for more than 50 years.
The potential change comes after weeks of deteriorating talks between leaders and lawyers for the city and Kentuck, particularly over the contract governing Northport's annual funding of the nonprofit.
After Kentuck announced in a press release that they were entertaining other suitors, Northport city attorney Ron Davis presented an offer last week that would keep the Festival at the park next year on extremely favorable terms, but in doing so, accused the nonprofit's leaders of dishonesty about their motives.
Then, last week, the city of Tuscaloosa published the agendas for regularly scheduled meetings planned for this Tuesday, and folks in Northport were quick to note an agenda item that will enter Tuscaloosa into a memorandum of understanding with Kentuck.
On Monday morning, Northport city council president Jeff Hogg published a letter to Kentuck leaders asking them to meet about the matter sometime before that vote is held tomorrow evening.
But, like Davis' contract presentation last week, Hogg's plea for continued talks was laced with language that seems ill-fit for mending fences.
"While I am not surprised, as this gesture has been threatened for years against the City of Northport, I do want to once again make it known that the City of Northport has never wavered in our intention of having a long-standing partnership of the festival at Kentuck Park," Hogg wrote. "With much publicity of this, I am requesting a meeting between the City of Northport and Kentuck prior to the Tuscaloosa Council meeting on Tuesday evening in an effort for the festival to stay in Northport at Kentuck Park in the same area as it has for 52 years. I would request that this meeting has all media sources involved to be transparent with open and honest dialogue and discussion. Please let me know today if you would be willing to meet tomorrow, Tuesday December 19th, to preserve the future of the festival and further strengthen our partnership for the
Neither Kentuck leadership nor a spokesperson for the city of Tuscaloosa commented for reporting about the Memorandum of Understanding last week.
For more updates on this situation as they become available, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.
Top Stories from the Tuscaloosa Thread (12/11 - 12/18)
Gallery Credit: (Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)