City Project advocates don’t relent, but neither does council

Jun. 05, 2014 @ 04:35 PM

The ongoing debate about the future of the City Project and Ignite High Point played out again Thursday morning — whether the discussions lead to more division or a compromise over the campaign for the city’s future remains uncertain.

A half a dozen advocates for the City Project spent an hour and 45 minutes peppering City Council with their points about why elected officials should reverse a decision last month to restructure the effort to revamp High Point. The discussion took place during the second and final public hearing on the city’s 2014-15 fiscal year budget, which must be in place by July 1.
The council adjourned after the public hearing without taking up a vote that could have reversed its City Project reforms. The council should vote on its budget proposal at its June 16 meeting at City Hall.
At a council meeting Monday night, close to 200 supporters of the City Project attended to show support for their cause. Two dozen City Project advocates followed up by coming to the public hearing Thursday morning.  
The dispute centers on a 7-2 vote by council to reshape the City Project and Ignite High Point effort, which until now has been directed for six years by a nonprofit board of directors who received funding through the city.
The council moved to eliminate the City Project as a city department and transfer the post held by Executive Director Wendy Fuscoe to another part of city government. Councilmembers who support the move say they aren’t trying to derail the City Project’s well-intended aims, but streamline oversight of the effort.
But critics of the changes say shifting the direction of the City Project and Ignite High Point would stall the campaign just as it’s gaining traction in benefiting the city. That theme was front and center in the comments of speakers who want the City Project restored to its previous status.
City Project, as it was originally conceived, holds the promise of creating economic value for the future of the city, said David Covington, a businessman and individual investor in City Project, who echoed the comments of other speakers Thursday.
“My grandchildren are the ones who are going to feel the effects of this,” Covington told the council.
Mayor Bernita Sims told the audience that it’s not the council’s intention to disrupt — and certainly not scuttle — the City Project and Ignite High Point.
“We are reviewing and looking at where we want to go,” Sims said. “We do have a vision — it’s a question about implementation.”

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528