Residents voice opinions on conference center

The Jefferson City council met Tuesday for a special hearing to allow the public to comment on the two conference center proposals facing the council.

About a dozen people voiced their opinion about the proposed conference center, many of whom preferred the downtown location.

"Associations have been coming in this town and using our trolleys for the past year to go places. They don't ask to go out to the mall. They ask to go to the Capitol building, or they want to go to the MSP, or they want to go to the near east side, they want to go to Prison Brews to eat...they go downtown," said Trolley Company owner Donna Deetz.

One man was concerned about the distribution of funds for the Capital Mall location.

"I walked through the mall this past weekend and looked at the space they're talking about using. For 9 million dollars they can do a whole lot more than renovate two open areas. Where's the rest of that money gonna go? Into the hotel? Into renovating the whole mall? I think the best thing you guys can do is to punt this ball down and work up a new RFP and put it back out on the street," said Jefferson City resident Glen Costales.

Farmer Holding Group will wait to make comments until Thursday's meeting, but a representative from Ehrhardt Hospitality Group wanted the audience to know a few things.

"I believe in the project. I believe in the location we have but I also believe both groups are doing nothing but trying to do what they believe is best for Jefferson City, and that's to build a conference center to draw people here. We just have a difference of opinion on the location," said representative Trey Propes.

Mayor Eric Struemph said having a public forum is crucial in the decision making process. He encourages people to continue to write and call their councilman to voice their concerns.

"It's nice to see people come before us and give them five minutes to tell us what they think of a particular part of the project and I think today's meeting went well," said Struemph.

Another public hearing will be held this Thursday, November 14th at 5:30 p.m. Speakers will have five minutes to present their argument.

Struemph said a final decision could be made as early as Monday November 18th.