Council delves into Core City history

Feb. 19, 2014 @ 11:59 AM

How did the blueprint that is guiding High Point’s revitalization efforts come into being and what purpose has it served?
These were among the questions underlying a Tuesday meeting of the City Council’s Comprehensive Planning Committee. City staff briefed the council on the history of High Point’s Core City Plan, which was adopted in 2007.
The plan has spawned some tangible accomplishments within the 11-square-mile core city area, but most agree that there has been nowhere near the amount of private investment needed to meet the goals of the proposals in the plan for these districts.
“When this was done, we were just entering probably one of the worst economic periods this country has seen in years,” said Councilwoman Becky Smothers. “It’s a plan with all sorts of challenges. It has to have all sorts of partners, and the city has taken the lead on much of it.”
Left unsaid Tuesday was part of the reason the topic was on the table at all.
Some council members have questioned whether the city should reduce its funding of The City Project, the nonprofit that is charged with implementing the Core City Plan.
The group is led by Executive Director Wendy Fuscoe, whose salary of just under $100,000 is paid by the city.
Spinoffs from the Core City Plan include the 2013 Ignite High Point master plan, which has been the focus of attention lately with the controversial “street diet” proposal for N. Main Street in Uptowne.
A master plan for Washington Street was also an offshoot. Council on Tuesday discussed what’s been happening in that neighborhood in recent years.
“It seems like Washington Street was just forgotten,” said Councilman Jim Davis.
Others said things have improved there. The High Point Police Department made Washington Street one of its focus areas for combatting street-level drug dealing and violent crime, which have stayed down.
The city has given out facade grants that several property owners have used to fix up businesses, and a new park has opened.
But officials said the city’s resources are limited when it comes to meeting what’s envisioned for Washington Street in the master plan.
For instance, it would take more than $4 million just to upgrade the aesthetics along the street as proposed in the plan. The city has unsuccessfully sought federal grants for this.
“Between the Hayden-Harman Foundation and Jackie Haizlip, there has been over $600,000 invested,” said Fuscoe. “So, as far as city dollars and private dollars, there’s been about as much as you could hope for. There are lots of misperceptions about the city rolling in with its big truckload of money.”