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POA considers new restaurant

by Lynn Atkins | October 27, 2021 at 10:35 a.m.

POA members on the west side may finally get the restaurant they have been asking for if the board approves a capitol project for $45,000 proposed by Business Development Director Tommy Lee. The discussion took place at the Oct. 21 board work session.

The funds will be used to purchase equipment and renovate space for a pizza kitchen in the Highlands Clubhouse operated by the POA. In the past, restaurant space was leased out, but the last lease holder at the Highlands, Mason Dixon, left the space in January 2017. A successful pub operation has been using part of the former space for the last few years with food brought from Lakepoint.

Lee said he's been monitoring growth in the area and believes the project will result in a sustainable business model. The restaurant will offer pizza, salad and soup, he said, which will be low cost starting out, but the menu could expand in the future.

It could be operating as soon as February 2022 if the plan is approved.

Another new connector for the Back 40 trail system in the Manchester Drive area was also discussed. It consists of a short section of trail -- about 2,800 feet -- that will create a small loop and eliminate what is currently a dead end. The group that has built most of the area's trail, the Trailblazers, has agreed that there will be no additional costs to the POA for three years.

The plan was originally considered in May, but the board wanted to check with property owners who might be affected by the trail. According to General Manager Tom Judson, Erin Rushing of Trailblazers spoke with all the property owners in the area including owners of unimproved lots. Only one property owner expressed concern and the trail was rerouted away from his property.

If the board approves the project this week, the city and the Trailblazers will also need to agree.

The board is also considering a plan to pay off a water bond early. In order to insure that the water department has funding for ordinary expenses, the extra payments must be approved each year. Controller Stacie Higgins pointed out while the plan is to pay off the bond in three years, it doesn't require the POA to follow through. If something changes, the third payment planned for 2023 could be postponed or reduced. On Thursday the board will vote on a payment of $1.5 million, ($600k required payment, plus $900k extra payment) for 2022.

Judson told the board that the POA contacted a company to try and improve a $500,000 offer for a long-term lease for four cell towers. The company, Tower Advisors, got a bid for $565,000. They would be paid a commission on only the added $65,000.

Board member Sandy Fosdick argued that the current short term contracts result in a larger return and is against the change. Three other board members agreed and Chairman David Brandenburg cast the deciding vote. The offer will not be brought up at the regular meeting on Thursday.

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