They’re not sitting around doing nothing

Published 7:14 pm Friday, July 20, 2018

It would be an understatement to say the City of Lanett has a lot on its plate right now. There are two major projects under way right now, one at the Lanett Municipal Airport and one in the downtown area, and something will have to be done with the Lanett Mill/Lanett Bleachery & Dye Works site. That 22-acre site off heavily-traveled Highway 29 is privately owned for now, but it’s common sense it’s going to be the city’s problem sooner or later to clean it up and find a new use for it.

The airport project is something that will benefit our entire area. The city deserves credit for taking on this issue and having something that can potentially boost economic growth. A 3,300-foot runway will be replaced by a new one that’s 4,400 feet long. It’s possible in the coming years for the new runway to be lengthened several hundred more feet, making it more than one mile long. The new runway will be long enough to land private jets. This is good news for such local companies as Kia and its suppliers, Knauf, Norbord, WestRock and in a few years, John Soules Foods.

This is a big project. It would be understandable if this was the one big thing Lanett had going on right now. There’s another big one going on, the downtown revitalization. It looks really good, and it’s going to be even better when all the work is complete. Commissioner Debbie Wood recently commended the city, likening the ongoing streetscape to dressing for success.

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She’s right. If a city doesn’t plan for the future, good things won’t be coming their way. The best thing about the project is the collective statement that we care about our town and we want visitors to have good experiences here.

The big project that’s looming is the Lanett Mill/Lanett Bleachery & Dye Works site. This piece of land has enormous potential for redevelopment. It cannot be allowed to sit there indefinitely as an eyesore and a subject for widespread complaints. At some point, the city is going to have to take this on. It’s now in the city limits, and subject to code enforcement. It could be that Lanett should follow Valley’s lead and buy it. It’s hard to fault Valley for any of its recent land purchases.

It shows that they have leadership that’s proactive and trying to build a better tomorrow. While we’re at it, something needs to be done with the 1906 Fraternal Hall and Stores building on the south side of the triangle. It needs to be renovated for future use, as stores or office space. Lanett will soon have a downtown area that will draw people. From the top floor of that building, one can see all the way to West Point. There needs to be businesses and offices in that building people will come to.

Like Valley and West Point, Lanett has made wise, practical decisions about its future. Those decisions deserve support from the public.

At least they’re not sitting around doing nothing.