Anthany Beatty said Wednesday that a change in leadership was needed to repair the city's relationship with the University of Kentucky because of the now suspended Rupp Arena renovation.
"In my opinion, the relationship between the University of Kentucky and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government has been tarnished," he said. "The Lexington city leadership must change in order to mend this relationship and move our city forward."
Beatty, who is running against Mayor Jim Gray in November, said he had a medical procedure last week and was unable to comment when Gray announced June 18 that he was suspending the controversial project indefinitely. Gray said the project was being suspended because UK had changed its mind about the scope of the renovations to the arena.
Beatty, who is an administrator at UK and a former Lexington police chief, said during a news conference Wednesday that the Rupp project had a host of problems — a lack of transparency, the financial plan for the project changed several times, disagreements between the city and UK about the project, and there was little or no public support for the project.
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"Lexington deserves better," he said of the planning that led to the project. "Our tax dollars should not be used to fund this project as it is presented."
Beatty has said repeatedly that he is not speaking for UK on the campaign trail. He is still employed by UK and campaigns during days off and on weekends.
Gray, meanwhile, said last week that the relationship between the city and university was still strong despite disagreements over the Rupp project. Gray said the city and university work together on a host of issues, including transportation, construction and other economic development projects. Gray also has noted that three years of planning went into the Rupp project and included multiple public hearings and public input.
Beatty said Wednesday that if elected in November, he wouldn't abandon plans to renovate Rupp Arena and the attached convention center. However, he said he would slow the process, get more public input and determine the best way for the project to move forward. He also said he would try to leverage private money to help pay for any possible renovation.