The Tuscaloosa City Council is set to consider entering into a "memorandum of understanding" with Kentuck next Tuesday - an agenda item that is raising eyebrows across the Black Warrior River in Northport.

As the Thread reported last month, the board of directors who govern the Kentuck Arts Center and organize the annual Festival of the Arts directed the organization's leaders to explore finding a new home for the event, which has been held for 50 years at Kentuck Park in Northport.

Kentuck is entertaining new suitors after months of negotiations with the city of Northport over the contract governing their funding broke down. The threat of losing the Festival - which draws up to 20,000 attendees each year - pushed Northport to offer a sweetheart one-year contract to keep it in the Park, but the offer was delivered with such vitriol it may have been dead on arrival.

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Now, on Friday, members of Northport's legal department directed local media to a recently uploaded agenda for next Tuesday's meeting of the Tuscaloosa City Council, which includes a "resolution authorizing a memorandum of understanding with Kentuck.'

The agenda item does not elaborate but notes that the resolution will require funding, which will be pulled from the city's General Fund contingency dollars.

"The City of Northport doesn’t have any additional info about it yet," Northport's assistant city attorney Chris Cunningham said in an email to reporters.

Representatives for Tuscaloosa did not immediately answer questions about the resolution Friday afternoon and Kentuck Board President Bobby Bragg declined to comment, except to confirm the resolution was on the agenda.

Earlier this week, Bragg said the organization was still weighing options for the 2024 Festival.

"The board of directors and our professional staff take our responsibility as a steward for the legacy and the future of Kentuck very seriously, and look forward to continuing to run our year-round arts programming and the festival in a first-class manner," Bragg said Wednesday. "We are still continuing deliberations. We are not ready to make any announcements yet."

Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for coverage of the council meeting on Tuesday and updates on the issue as they become available.

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