City leaders in Poway say taxpayer dollars will not pay for the highly anticipated Tony Gwynn Memorial, despite a recent settlement the city manager made without the city council’s knowledge.
“I had no doubt that when we decided to do a statue that people would step up. And they have,” Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said of the many donors contributing to the memorial.
That’s one reason why Vaus and city leaders were upset to hear about a city settlement allocating thousands of dollars to the statue, which will overlook a baseball field at Lake Poway.
The settlement was with Sportsplex USA.
But it turns out, the city of Poway had been billing Sportsplex too little on its city lease since 2010. City Councilmembers say they learned about this mistake only after City Manager Dan Singer had already negotiated a deal with Sportsplex.
The deal included the business giving the city nearly $16,000 to $10,000, part of which would go toward the memorial.
“I wasn't comfortable with money from a settlement going to the statue because those are in essence, taxpayer dollars,” Vaus said. “So there was no way that was going to happen on my watch.”
On Tuesday night, city officials met in a closed session. After the meeting, Councilman John Mullin could only tell NBC 7 that public funds will not pay for the memorial and that they are back to the negotiating table.
Singer did not respond to questions regarding the previous settlement. But he said: "We anticipate an amicable solution will be reached in our negotiations."
Meanwhile, the countdown continues at Lake Poway for the Tony Gwynn Memorial which will honor the baseball legend and for the people of Poway, a hometown hero.
“It's going to be a really special thing that everyone's going to want to see,” Vaus said of the statue.
The target for the cost of the memorial is $150,000. So far, Vaus said the city has raised about $143,000.
The plan is to break ground for the memorial on July 11th and have it completed before the end of 2016.