CCDA says cleaning up mill is important

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, June 6, 2019

WEST POINT — Chambers County Development Authority Executive Director Valerie Gray told members of the West Point Lions Club on Wednesday that the cleanup of the Lanett Mill site will be both legal and environmentally friendly.

Gray was the guest speaker Wednesday and was accompanied to the meeting by CCDA staff members Kimberly Carter and Chris Busby.

The CCDA is partnering with the city on the mill site cleanup and the redevelopment of the 27-acre site as a commercial or light industry zone. Roy Granger of Regeneration LLC had the site for the past 12 years with the goal of tearing down the buildings on the property and selling the materials for their salvage value.

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When resale prices were good, there would be lots of activity on the site, but when they fell there would be little going on. Since most of the demolished material has little, or no, resale value, it has left many large, unsightly piles of debris on the site.

An agreement was announced on April 30 that Granger agreed to sell the site to Lanett for $530,000 with payment being made through a zero-interest loan from the Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA), which Lanett is a member city.

The city will pay back the loan by making a $100,000 payment in January for the next five years.

Gray said cleaning up the mill site is an important goal for the local area.

“We are better than what we see on Highway 29,” she said. “It’s hard to tell your kids to clean up your room when they see it every day, not just in Lanett but also across from the schools in Fairfax and Langdale.”

Gray cited the Lanett cleanup as the most important goal for the CCDA this year.

“People who turn off the interstate don’t know where Lanett ends and West Point begins,” she said. “People visiting Point University can’t help but see it.”

Gray said she’d like to see the site cleaned up over the next year or year-and-a-half, which could be a tall order.

“It’s daunting when you are on the site and see those piles of debris,” she said.

When asked about future uses for the site once it’s cleaned up, Gray said she’d like for it to be used in a manner that reflects our local heritage and “where we come from.”

“One of the best things we have going for us now is the level of cooperation between local cities and the county, the Chambers of Commerce and the CCDA,” she said.

Such cooperation is beneficial because “what one city doesn’t have, the other does,” she said.

There are some encouraging trends in the way the Greater Valley Area and Chambers County are being visited on the internet. Gray said lower real estate prices compared to Lee County and LaGrange are driving this.

“We want people to come here to live,” Gray said. “If people (in the north or the Midwest) are looking at relocating to the South, we want to give them the information they are looking for.”

In one recent month, for example, a total of 76,000 people looked at a CCDA Facebook post, spending an average of one minute and 53 seconds on the site. Most of those people were from Lee, Troup and Muscogee counties. On the CCDA site, more than 26,000 visits took place during a recent Chambers Strong campaign.

On average, each visitor spent 57 seconds on the site, which is above the national average.

Online visitors are also looking at local videos. CCDA recently saw a 173 percent increase on the Instagram CCDA site.