OUR VIEW: Actions speak louder than words

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2019

On Monday night, the West Point City Council voted against allowing the West Point Development Authority to use $80,000 to purchase a 1.14-acre lot of blighted land on East 10th Street.

The development authority was asking for funding from the city’s Forward Fund, which was created specifically for the purpose of developing that area of West Point. Surprisingly, the council denied that request, voting 4-2 on Monday night and leaving the purchase up in the air.

The development authority could still choose to go through with buying the land, but now none of the funding will come from the city. 

The council’s stance on the entire issue was confusing, and actions speak louder than words. Although the measure was voted down, there never seemed to be a clear reason to as why the council voted against it other than they just didn’t want the fund to be depleted. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems as if they just want to hold on to the money and wait for something else to come along. However, there hasn’t been any recent mention of other projects coming down the pipe. 

It is understandable there could be some frustration that some of the other projects on 10th Street that have been cleared and made available for redevelopment haven’t garnered much attention yet, but sometimes developments can take years. Also, it’s been mentioned at previous meetings that the development in question has already been a hinderance to nearby developments.

Several council members said during the meeting that they hoped the development authority would still purchase the land and go through with cleaning up the property. The council is saying it supports the purchase, while also refusing to use funding earmarked specifically for the 10th Street Corridor. 

“I am 100 percent behind the Development Authority acquiring the property and making positive change on 9th and 10th Street,” said Councilwoman Deedee Williams. 

“If that be the case, we have a Forward Fund with money set aside to do this,” said West Point Mayor Steve Tramell. 

“This money will not find a better use in this city. It ought to be done.”

At the meeting, it was determined that the funds do not have to be used specifically for 10th Street, as they fall under discretionary funding and could be used elsewhere. Down the road, there could be another need for $80,000 for economic development. 

The way the fund is set up, the council only has one last shot to spend the money in the fund because the minimum expenditure is $50,000 according to Tramell, and there is only $90,000 available. 

We understand wanting to make sure the money is spent the best way possible for the residents of West Point. 

However, there’s a real need right now on some property that has become a real eyesore on East 10th Street, and the council has chosen not to do anything about it.