Our View: Should city look inward, instead?

Nov. 25, 2012 @ 01:02 AM

A Greensboro development company wants to invest millions in a plan for a huge business park north of High Point. And last Monday, City Council, in a 7-2 vote, gave tentative approval to the proposal and the annexation of 431 acres between Sandy Ridge Road and Interstate 40 where the park would be located.
In these tough economic times, proposals that could mean new jobs for the city and surrounding area generate interest and raise prospects of recovery for the local economy. But also because of tough economic times, we wonder whether any such proposal to greatly increase city limits is the proper move for the city. Add the fact that this proposed development would require an estimated $13 million commitment from High Point’s taxpayers, and concerns about such ideas are heightened.
The plan proposed by D.H. Griffin of Greensboro calls for a huge development – known as High Point North Industrial Center – that would include office parks, corporate headquarters and light industrial and commercial sites. The area would be built over a period of years, perhaps up to 20. The site is located in an area of Guilford County that through agreements with Kernersville and Greensboro is slated for eventual annexation by High Point.
The proposal sounds promising, but still, shouldn’t High Point officials, instead of looking north – or south, east or west – for annexation areas first be looking inward in order to redevelop and restore the city’s interior areas that have lost the luster they once had as business and commercial areas?
In recent years, proposals have been approved for redeveloping Core City areas, such as Washington Street, Uptowne High Point, the home furnishings market center and other areas identified in the Core City Plan. Also, a private group of local citizens, the Southwest Renewal Foundation of High Point, has developed plans to renew the vitality of residential, commercial and industrial areas in that section of city. It just seems more prudent for leaders to focus available city resources on proposals that already have been deemed important to High Point’s future.
Certainly, “available city resources” is a key point for discussion. Under the D.H. Griffin proposal, High Point would be obligated to infrastructure improvements estimated to cost at least $13 million. City Manager Strib Boynton last week told Council the city has “no current or readily identifiable method to pay for all the required improvements” associated with the proposal.
But who would pay the $13 million? City taxpayers.
City Council voted 7-2, with Foster Douglas and Mike Pugh opposed, giving tentative approval to the proposal and recommending that the new City Council, which takes office next month, affirm the plan. Instead, we urge the new City Council, which will include a number of new members, to review this proposal closely in light of needs in existing areas of High Point.