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And he confirmed what Brody and several city officials say was the corps' second major hang-up: using federal land for a pro team. "We have expressed some concern about how much this federal land would be available for public use. We have to look at the exclusivity associated with that part of it. We're not so sure to what extent this facility would be made available to the public," Ruffennach said. Apparently, the idea of the national government taking an interest in what has historically been a local concern was one public-private partnership the feds wanted no part of.
According to Millie and Miller, who were both in the meeting, the corps officials said the Burn's involvement would bump the decision-making to Washington.
"They were telling us in so many words: Go away," Miller says. "There are two factions in this town, and the anti-Blue Sky faction isn't going to change its mind if you paved the road leading up to it with 14-karat gold."
Indeed, the prospect of having to wait two months -- and then possibly two years -- on an uncertain process wasn't in Brody's or the Burn's plans.
Brody says now that he is pursuing other possible deals: "We're looking at some alternative sites." But he declined to say that his efforts in Hickory Creek are absolutely over. "Right now I don't know. The picture is pretty cloudy."
Sounding a lot like the pro owners in Dallas who not-so-subtly worked one city against another in pursuit of their basketball-hockey arena, Billy Hicks (no relation to Tom Hicks) says he also has other suitors.
"We've had interest from other cities who have land to be developed and partners to help them do it. There's a huge shortage of soccer fields in the metroplex. People see there's a drawing card in having the local professional team involved."
And while no official announcement has been made, opponents in Hickory Creek are trumpeting their victory on the Web: "Thank you fabulous Corps of Engineers for protecting the interests of the citizens against the Blue Sky development," the Van Cleaves' site blares. (By this time, councilman Clarke had taken down his site. Brody's lawyer had warned the city's attorney that Clarke might have defamed Brody when he questioned the veracity of his résumé.)
Clarke claims it was time to take down the Web site anyway, and then adds, "I think this time you can say the system worked. A majority of citizens were against it, and they rose up and squashed it. That's the way it's supposed to be."