By T. Scott Boatright
A hotel and entertainment center adjoining the Ruston Sports Complex came step closer after action taken by aldermen during the monthly meeting of Ruston’s City Council Monday night at City Hall.
The City Council approved an ordinance authorizing the city to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with DBUZ of Ruston, LLC, owned by Derek Busby, for both a hotel development and an entertainment center on 3.1 acres of land located northeast of the Ruston High School baseball field on the Sports Complex’s property.
Land for each planned property was appraised at $225,000 with the city agreeing to sell it to DBUZ LLC for 1/10th of that cost, or $22,500 each. The CEA includes “clawbacks” (a contractual provision that requires an employee to return money already paid by an employer, sometimes with a penalty). In this case, that includes the number of jobs those establishments would bring to the city, which Carter said Busby indicated would be at least 10 while anticipating significantly more.
“To clarify, the clawback on that if he does not produce the number of jobs that the CEA agrees to, then that number (land price) changes,” said Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker.
Carter added that if Busby opted to sell the property to a third party he would be required to pay a certain percentage of the sale price to him in accordance with the appraised value.
He also said that the entertainment center would be built within a specified time period as part of the CEA.
Walker said the entertainment center would consist of arcade-type games and could also include things such as miniature golf, go-carts, etc.
“(Busby’s) not sure yet exactly what pieces will be there,” Walker said.
Ruston’s aldermen also approved a resolution authorizing the city to enter into a CEA with the the cities of Monroe, Shreveport and Vicksburg, Mississippi, relative to a grant application for funding under the federal-state partnership for an intercity passenger rail program.
“Over the past few years people along I-20 had hoped, worked and lobbied for Amtrak to come following down that same (I-20) corridor connecting our cities to a larger network of passenger rail, so now, with the ample amount of state and federal funding that is out there, this group of cities is working to pull together an application in an effort to receive funding to encourage Amtrak to fall along the I-20 corridor area,” said Public Works Mananger Andrew Halbrook.
Walker said the process is a very competitive one.
“A lot of cities and areas will be applying,” Walker said. “We just felt like joining four groups together would give us a much better shot at getting the money. Monroe will be the lead city of the four.”
During the meeting Ruston’s aldermen also approved a budget amendment for the Budget Yet Oct. 1, 2022 – Sept. 23, 2023 to move $575,000 from the general fund to the capital expenditure fund for purchase of a light rescue truck and equipment after the city and the Lincoln Parish Police reached a deal for the city to provide ambulance and rescue service for the entire parish.
In other business, Ruston’s City Council also introduced a pair of ordinances — one authorizing the city to sell property to Lifepoint Church and another amending the city zoning code — that will be discussed and considered during next month’s council meeting.
During the finance report, City Treasurer Julie Spheir said that total sales taxes for December of 2022 were $2.4 million, an increase of $307,000 or 14% over the total from the previous year — December of 2021.
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