“Save the City Project” enters lively debate

May. 25, 2014 @ 06:20 PM

A grass-roots movement of High Pointers calling itself “Save the City Project” is asking City Council to reverse its recent vote to distance the city from the revitalization nonprofit.
Council voted 7-2 last week to eliminate the City Project as a city department and transfer the position held by Executive Director Wendy Fuscoe to another department. According to council members in support of the move, a redirection is needed to provide more attention to redevelopment work throughout the entire core city.
The decision led to a backlash from many, who argue that changing Fuscoe’s duties in this way will set back High Point’s revitalization efforts. The City Project itself still exists, in the form of a nonprofit organization overseen by its own board. Council members in the majority of last week’s vote defend the action, explaining that they are still pursuing core city redevelopment and that the city’s proposed 2014-15 fiscal year budget includes $70,000 for the City Project for advertising and a facade grant program.
Still, many disagree with what council did, including David Rosen of High Point, who operates a professional photography business.
He helped organize a meeting at the High Point Chamber of Commerce on Thursday that drew nearly 80 people.
He and others in the group say the City Project has made progress revitalizing areas like Uptowne, Washington Street and SoSi. The progress could go to waste, he and others argue, if council’s vote stands.
He and fellow organizer Monica Peters are not affiliated with the City Project, but simply decided they needed to act to try to get council to change its vote.
“We’re two average folks who put this together without a personal agenda,” said Rosen. “We will be present at the June (council) meetings in numbers. We are looking to take the upper road. We’re taking a positive approach. We’re not being rebellious and we’re not trying to picket. This isn’t about arguing. This is about City Council taking the first step and saying that what it did was premature.”
The meeting at the chamber drew a variety of businesspeople and other professionals, including many young people, as well as longtime residents and people who recently relocated here, he said.
The group is in favor of the Ignite High Point master plan, which its members fear could fall by the wayside unless the City Project as it’s currently constituted continues working to implement its recommendations.
“This is about the future of High Point. We want to support small businesses and retail. We want to keep our furniture market here, but it’s got to be about something that is more than twice a year,” Rosen said. “I see young people all the time say, ‘I used to live here, but there’s nothing to do here.’ We hear this over and over again.”
The group is using social media to get its message out — its Facebook page is www.facebook.com/savethecityproject.
“The interest is there,” he said. “This group is very stoked.”