Your View: Guest Column - Ignite High Point ideas are critical to future

Jan. 02, 2014 @ 09:36 PM

BY DAVID COVINGTON

Reading Tom Blount’s column in last Sunday’s edition of the Enterprise left me perplexed and confused. Why the editor emeritus of the Enterprise, whose life has been centered on selling newspaper subscriptions to the High Point marketplace, would expound on the negative side of an effort (Ignite High Point) that could only have a positive effect on his potential subscriber bases is beyond me.
Taking phrases from Mr. Blount’s comments that disparage ongoing efforts to make our city a thriving community are most definitely of an “editorial nature” without much substance.
From “the pit is still a hole in the ground,” or “to yield or not to yield” in speaking of the new roundabout certainly leaves the reader questioning the validity of the urban movement itself.
I was particularly drawn to Mr. Blount’s comment, “likewise as my wife does, I worry that parts of several parking lots downtown, the parking lot at Oak Hollow Mall, and a portion of the parking lot at College Village will become sea-can junk yards.”
While I, too, would hate to see any deterioration in any part of our city, I have checked sea-can junk yards off my worry list. Instead, I would rather leave the reader with a few mathematical facts concerning downtown areas of our neighbors who have embraced the concept of economic growth through urban living and are now reaping the benefits of their efforts.
• Durham: 1993 to present
$314 million in public investment saw $1 billion in private investment. Downtown residence increased 1,000 fold.
• Salisbury: 1980 to now
Over $117 million in total investment had a net increase of over 1,000 jobs. Saw 288 building renovations.
• Burlington: 1988 to 2011
$9.5 million in public investment saw $46 million in private investments. Increased tax value in downtown from $71 million in 2009 to $84 million in 2011.
Notice that the key to this growth comes from both private and public funding
Mr. Blount’s reference to the resolution fails to disclose that the purpose of this document is to express unification and confirmation that this urban movement is needed to increase the economic base of our city. It has nothing to do with a certain project but the need of the movement itself. A movement which in time will diversify our economic base to benefit not only those of us who live here but those that visit our wonderful university, furniture market, bike races, fabric show and other functions that draw people to our city.
As a concerned citizen and active member of the City Project and Ignite High Point, I will be the first to say I am not for all Andres Duany recommended. What I am for is moving forward and studying what makes sense for High Point and then implementing it.
Today we are working off a page with 14 recommendations to diversify our economic base. I would love to see Mr. Blount’s list.
As for Mr. Blount’s comments on the property facade improvements, the city had more applications from retailers than funds available and the ones that took advantage were the first to apply thus using up the total allocation.
Cocktail talk is cheap; redeploying public and private assets to make High Point a thriving city in the Piedmont takes time, talent and support from guys who have made a living selling newspapers.
Let’s face it, the simple fact that making our city a better place to live and become as economically sound as possible is the motivation behind the efforts Mr. Blount seems to want to denigrate.
One last thing that could be important. Most traffic circles don’t come with instructions, but here is a tip ... once in the circle you don’t have to make a decision to “ yield or not to yield.”  ... That is the answer.

David Covington is a member of the City Project’s board of directors.


YOUR VIEW POLLS

Officials at The City Project, which aims to spur redevelopment of High Point’s downtown, say the idea to turn “The Pit” off High Avenue into a downtown attraction for young people could cost $1 million. Should the city ante up some cash for the venture? In 30 words or less (no name, address required), email your thoughts to letterbox@hpe.com or go to hpe.com under Opinion and post a comment.