FedExForum parking garage controversy discussed by Council

The controversial FedExForum parking garage was a hot topic at Tuesday's Memphis City Council committee meetings.

City Council members turned up the heat on top city leaders over a multi-million dollar settlement the city signed with the state for not building what it was supposed to with Federal dollars... basically a much bigger garage and a bus transfer station.

"Six million dollars plus is a lot of money," said council member Tom Marshall. "I don't care what income bracket you might be in, the fact is the constituents demand answers."

First on the hot seat was Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.  He told the council committee he delegated the entire project, and never saw any of the garage plans.  He called what happened an regrettable omission.

"In the vast array of issues that confront the City of Memphis, this has just been another issue," Herenton said. "I don't see this issue of any great magnitude of importance."

But council members said they wont drop the issue, since the settlement requires the city to forfeit $6.2 million in future state grant money, which council members say taxpayers are entitled to.

"Ultimately, we're going to get to the bottom of this thing," Herenton said. "We're going to assign blame.  We're going to correct the procedures and we're going to make this not happen again."

Council members called it a mistake they have to live with, but one they can learn from.

City Attorney Sara Hall put together a list of all the questions the council committee threw out during Tuesdays meeting, such as questions regarding who approved changes to the project.  Council members said they hope those questions will be answered when they meet again in two weeks.