West Point growth on the horizon

Published 7:00 am Friday, June 19, 2020

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LANETT — West Point Mayor Steve Tramell was the guest speaker for Thursday’s noon hour meeting of the West Point Rotary Club, held inside the Jane Farrar Event Center in downtown Lanett.  He termed the present a “best of times/worst of times” situation. The worst of times part was on the national scale with COVID-19 and racial unrest. It’s the City of West Point that’s having the best of times, being on the cusp of up to a half-billion dollars in community growth.

The mayor cautioned everyone of an uptick in the coronavirus that’s being seen in Troup County. He encouraged local residents to be careful when out in public by wearing masks, gloves and avoiding large gatherings.

“Let’s remain diligent on this,” he said.

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Tramell said he’d taken a tour of the Kia plant to see the safety precautions that are being taken care of in the workplace. He said that Kia officials had told him that they are confident their team members are safe at work but are concerned about what they are exposed to when they are away from Kia.

“I can be down with what’s going on nationally, but I am well pleased with what’s going on in West Point,” he said. “I have never been as optimistic about that as I am now.”

The reasons to be upbeat about West Point include The Villages of West Point, a $125 million multi-family development to be built inside the city limits off Gabbettville Road near KMMG, the possibility of some major additions to the West Point Housing Authority and a strong possibility of a new industry coming to town that would employ an estimated 800 people.

The Villages at West Point will break ground this fall and will include 650 units.

Tramell said the public housing expansion isn’t a done deal but is very promising. There are two possible developments. One would be for senior citizens and would be built on a cleared-off lot next to Bethlehem Baptist Church on 10th Street. A second possible development would be on a 12-acre site behind the Coca-Cola plant and would be multi-family units. The approval of either project would represent a big step forward for West Point. The approval of both would mean 250 new, attractive housing units in the city.

West Point is one of two possible locations for a $250 million industry that will employ an estimated 800 people.

“It’s pretty big,” said Tramell. “It’s the kind of project where, if we get it, the governor will make the announcement. It’s a pretty big deal for the state.”

Tramell said he’s looking forward to West Point having three roundabouts in the near future. Two will be on Exit 2 off I-85 and another at the junction of Highways 18 and 103.

“Will there be a training session to teach people how to use roundabouts?” club member Larry Nix asked, drawing a round of laughter.”They are great when people learn how to use them, but many of us are clueless right now.”

Tramell said the thing to remember is that it is a yield sign is not a place for stopping.

“Injuries and fatalities are way down at roundabouts,” he said. “Drivers can’t be t-boned. The worst is that you can get clipped in the rear, and that’s not likely. The main thing is getting used to them.”

When the roundabouts are in, a new Love’s Truck Stop will be going up across from Frisky Whiskey. It’s a $35 million development.

The new roundabouts to be built on Highway 18 in West Point will be large.

“They will be big enough for semis to use,” Tramell said.

West Point will have a busy summer in the way of routine projects. Avenues C and E will be getting some paving and patching. There will be some improvements at the 6th Street park in the Waterworks community and Tramell is looking forward to a major upgrade at the traffic signal at the intersection of 10th Street and MLK.

City hall, the senior center and the splash pads are presently closed but could reopen after July 4.

“Our restaurants in the downtown area are up and running,” Tramell said.