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Tough decision ahead for West Point council

The West Point City Council is currently in the process of deciding whether or not it wants to invest a significant amount of money, $80,000, into a local redevelopment effort. A particular piece of land on 10th Street in West Point, located between Avenues H and I, has long been an area the city has desired to clean up and beautify. Now, it has the chance to lend a financial hand to accomplish just that.

Coleman Reeves, owner of CDR Ventures, has negotiated a price point of $258,000 to buy the property from the current landowner, with the hopes of clearing off the majority of the property to then sell the property to the West Point Development Authority for $288,000. The development authority has, in turn, asked the city council for $80,000 to help offset the cost of that potential property acquisition.

This money from the city would come from its Forward Fund, which has a specific, stated purpose to encourage sustainable community development projects that further the economic growth of the community, to create employment and housing opportunities for residents and to generally improve the city. City documents also say the specific focus for the program is the 10th Street redevelopment plan.

The city council, however, is currently undecided on whether or not the $80,000 investment on its behalf is the correct move. Councilman Alanteo “Henry” Hutchinson said he has concerns with the commitment of funds to the development authority, citing the Forward Fund’s depleting assets and past 10th Street clearance projects that have thus far not seen any development. Newly-appointed Councilwoman DeeDee Williams expressed the city would be remiss if it did not get involved in the revitalization of the property, but felt the city needed to look at the opportunity from “every angle” to ensure the city is spending public dollars appropriately. Mayor Steve Tramell noted concern that if the city does not assist in the land acquisition, a private company may purchase the land, potentially leaving the city in the same position it is in now.

This discussion, and the different tendrils of possibility that unfold as a result, are good, important conversations for city governments to have.

When city councils become apathetic and prone to rubber-stamp projects without appropriate research and conversation, that leads to misappropriated funds and wasted opportunities.

Whatever the West Point City Council decides to do as it relates to assisting the development authority in purchasing this land, and whether or not we agree with the ultimate outcome, the discussion held is a reminder our local officials genuinely do care about the communities we live and work in.