GROVE - Minutes of executive sessions where developers were invited to visit with the the Blue Ribbon Committee and subsequently made offers on the Grove Civic Center, will be made public, the committee chairman announced.
The committee will formally vote on the matter at the next meeting of the committee, according to chairwoman Connie Brewer.
The decision comes in response to a News-Record request to unseal minutes of an executive session held in violation of the Open Meetings Act.
While updating Grove City Council members on the work the Blue Ribbon Committee has done to date, Brewer said the committee had received two offers to purchase the Grove Civic Center - one for $2.5 million and another for $2.2 million.
Tulsa developers James Dill and Craig Payne made offers to purchase the civic center behind closed doors, Brewer confirmed.
Grove developer Jack Forrest was invited to visit with the Blue Ribbon Committee during an executive session on March 1, but he didn't attend after Ben Loring, first assistant district attorney wrote a letter to the group advising that a closed-door meeting to discuss offers to sell the Grove Civic Center would be illegal.
When Councilman Larry Parham questioned how it came to be that offers were given to the committee behind closed doors, Brewer admitted that the action was illegal.
Brewer told the council that, at first, she wasn't aware the committee had to conform to the Open Meetings/Open Records Act.
Acting city attorney Ron Cates told Brewer that “all along” he'd advised her in several discussions that the group was a public body with a defacto decision- making authority.
Cates reminded Brewer that they'd worked diligently to make sure the agendas for those executive sessions didn't violate the Open Meeting Act.
It was a Blue Ribbon Committee member, Bill Skea, who had advised that an attorney he'd sought out for an opinion didn't feel the group was a public body.
Brewer said the group was only a fact-finding body with no funds to expend. However, past actions of the committee include the selection and recommendation to the city council of the engineering group that, for an estimated $60,000 would design entertainment and aquatic centers at the group's direction.
After the Blue Ribbon committee narrowed the design firm field to one, Kimley-Horn, it was the only entity given to the Grove City Council to either approve or disapprove.
Brewer said that, during the Blue Ribbon Committee's next meeting, the group would make the executive minutes public in response to the News-Record Feb. 7 request.
Under Oklahoma statutes, the only people who can decide if the minutes of the executive sessions in question should be made public is a district judge or a majority vote of the Blue Ribbon Committee.
Debbie Mavity, assistant city manager said on Wednesday she was waiting for a letter from Cates offering his opinion to the group, it was her understanding that Brewer would schedule a meeting to vote on the matter.
Brewer said publicly she'd heard that some council members wanted to disband the Blue Ribbon Committee and requested immediate action be taken as a courtesy so members wouldn't expend further time.
The council took no action on the request.
During the public comment portion, Grove resident Ben Hynum urged the city council to put the matter of selling the civic center and building a new facility up to the vote of the people.
The previous city council voted unanimously to put the item up for a vote, however failed to pass the resolution with enough time to place it on the ballot for the April election, Mavity said.