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Joplin may give free land to Wallace Bajjali financial supporter - KOAM TV 7

Joplin may give free land to Wallace Bajjali financial supporter

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A Joplin city councilman says the city is looking at a deal to repay the debt of Joplin's former master redeveloper.  

The deal involves the City of Joplin and a Southwest Missouri trucking company.

Joplin City Councilman Bill Scearce says the city's attorney has determined there's no question that the city owes David Wallace money.

"The definitive opinion is the city owes money to David Wallace, and David Wallace owes that money to Prime," says Scearce.

Prime trucking company in Springfield, Missouri issued a line of credit for Wallace Bajjali to help them rebuild Joplin.  Scearce says Joplin's city attorney told the council David Wallace's efforts to secure $1.4 million in EDA grant money would need to be compensated.  The money is being used to build a new library.

Scearce says because the city won a $1.4 million lawsuit against Wallace Bajjali, it cancels the amount the city owes the defunct master redeveloper.  

"In the State of Missouri, when you owe me money and I owe you money, it offsets.  If they are equal amounts.  If they're not, someone has to pay the difference.  These are equal amounts," says Scearce.

But according to Scearce, some city officials are willing to ignore the offsetting judgment.  The city would allow Wallace's backer, Prime, to redevelop $1.4 million of Joplin land, letting Prime reclaim what Wallace owed them over time.  The land that would be given to Prime is to the east of Joplin's new library.

Scearce says he doesn't agree with the city giving Prime land to pay Wallace Bajjali's debt.

"It's my opinion that there are members of the council who are desperate to see something take place.  I believe something will take place there eventually, if it deserves to take place there.  Let the free market decide on whether or not something will happen there," says Scearce.

Joplin's mayor says he can't talk about details of the city's talks with Prime.  But the mayor did say he hopes there is a resolution with Prime by the middle of this month.

Joplin City Attorney Peter Edwards did not return our calls for comment on this story.

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