The developers of a proposed Bible Park have announced they are suspending the project in Lebanon, Tenn., citing political infighting between the city council and the mayor.
The Lebanon City Council voted unanimously last week to withdraw its support of the proposed $175 million Bible-theme attraction. City officials who had previously supported the project said the developers failed to provide them with financial statements.
The mayor of Lebanon still wants the project brought to the city and has said he hoped the council would reconsider, according the Tennessean.
Robert Wyatt, developer of Bible Park USA, said Tuesday in a statement his company is halting further work on the park "pending the City Council and the Mayor resolving internal political differences over the project," The Wilson Post reported.
He went on to say that the political problems have jeopardized financing for the project.
“I would be surprised if investors or lenders are likely to go forward in this location, given the current political environment where city officials change their mind in mid-course without notice to the development team or others supporting the project. Certainly, our pool of potential investors view this as a source of great concern," Wyatt stated.
"Our utter lack of opportunity to address new issues has led to speculation that local political in-fighting has taken over the ordinary process toward approval of a significant economic development project for Wilson County. Regardless of the explanation, our ability to attract business investment to Lebanon has been undermined."
Developers had planned to build Bible Park USA on about 110 acres fronting Interstate 40 in Wilson County. The location would have been a 30-minute drive from downtown Nashville.
The project was marketed as an “edutainment” theme park that boasts a mixed offering of education and entertainment. Visitors would have access to visual exhibits of Bible stories from both the Old and New Testaments, interpreted from a non-denominational perspective.
Some of the featured attractions would include Bible Land Fly-Through indoor ride, an indoor Exodus Experience featuring the parting of the Red Sea with high-tech standing 25-foot waves and image projection, recording studios for church choirs and a recreation of Noah’s Ark, according to Bible Park USA's Web site.
The location of the Bible Park was moved to Wilson County after the project faced fierce opposition from residents of Rutherford County. The project was subsequently denied a rezoning request by the Rutherford County Commission.
According to Wyatt, the development of the Bible Park in Lebanon would bring $5.3 million in yearly tax revenues and create thousands of new jobs.