LANETT – The Town of West Point has a comprehensive plan for the next 20 years. The plan is seen as a long-term community vision for the future of the city with established political directions for future actions based on this shared vision. City planning director Dennis Dutton spoke about the 20-year plan at Thursday’s noon meeting of the West Point Rotary Club.
Dutton brings a wealth of experience as a town planner. He was a zoning planner or administrator in several cities in Georgia, including Barnesville, Thomaston, Cedartown, Rome and Fayetteville.
Georgia’s Planning Act 1989 encourages cities and counties in Georgia to develop comprehensive plans to meet state planning requirements, to remain eligible for grants and other funding programs, and to have a way to leverage public and private investment.
“Every city is different and needs a plan to meet its unique needs,” said Dutton. “Cities like West Point and Hogansville are very different from cities in Metro Atlanta. Fayetteville is essentially a residential district with a controlled growth strategy.
West Point’s plan includes a five-year work program. An update to the plan is due to be completed in 2026, and more updates will be made along the way to reflect changes in the city, its economy and its surroundings.
A steering committee consisting of Mayor Steve Tramell, Economic Development Representative Meghan Duke, staff members Dutton, Monica Barber, Mike Criddle, Meril Dailey and Cheryl Magby and residents Larry Duncan, Bill Gladden and Trudye Johnson developed this called a SWOT Analysis. It represents strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Dutton said one of the city’s obvious strengths is that it is crossed by a river. Many places would like to have two shores of the Chattahoochee like West Point does. Other strengths include a bustling city center with historic structures and facilities; a variety of restaurants that are within easy walking distance of downtown; Point University; proximity to a large railroad; many recreational activities and facilities; a strong and active police force; good city services; active and passive green spaces; interstate access and The Ray; West Point Lake; KMMG and its suppliers and a committed citizenship.
Weaknesses include lack of transportation options, lack of retail, a limited variety of housing options. insufficient accommodation for travelers, lack of directional signage in the city and some degree of community apathy.
“In one study, we found that retailing had changed,” Dutton said. “There is a need for it. Our restaurants are doing really well.
Dutton said he was working with Cedartown when a bypass for US 27 circled town. This took away tourism and harm downtown businesses.
The bustling downtown is something West Point needs to maintain.
“We have to make the city center a centerpiece,” he said. “We need to widen our hiking trails. Our public works department has worked hard to keep our River Park trails clear and safe. We even had a wedding in the park.
Dutton said there was a need for all types of housing as well.
“Loft apartments are popular downtown, and we’re having growth with single-family homes,” Dutton said. “There are plans to build 100 new homes in Harris Creek.”
The city has grown a lot since the announcement in 2006 of Kia’s arrival in the city. Dutton said it was a good thing but that the city had to be careful of future annexations.
“We have to be smart about what we annex,” he said. “We will have to provide services such as water, sewerage and wastewater treatment for what we provide.”
West Point has a major opportunity in the coming years to redevelop its front door along 10th Street.
“We want it to be a scenic and enjoyable drive for those entering the city,” said Dutton.
The opportunities listed in the SWOT analysis include:
• Continued marketing of unique lifestyle, character and quality of life offers in the city;
• Promotion of ecotourism;
• Improve communication between the city and its inhabitants;
• Improved intergovernmental relations;
• Attract the film industry
• Promotion of agritourism;
• Diversify the economy;
• Promote the public tours offered by KMMG;
• Have a common corridor with the Town of Lanett;
• Partnership with local chambers of commerce to promote the city.
The work program of the comprehensive plan for the next five years includes the attraction of another grocery store in the city, the update of the survey of the historical resources of the city, the revitalization of the old building of the West Point High School on Highway 29, developing a city-wide signage plan, creating a park management plan, land use plan, adopting a city ordinance to address accessory housing units and to make recreation and park improvements throughout the city.
The work programs that have been completed so far include an inventory of vacant sites, an inventory of buildings that can be redeveloped, the nomination of properties for the National Register of Historic Places, consideration of public funding or private that could be used to revitalize West Point High Building and quarterly meetings with the Harris County Development Authority and the Harris County Commission. Work programs currently underway include the development of a policy statement for local industry, educational institutions and nonprofits to have a program that would help adults with limited work skills acquire new skills. such skills and obtain certification in specialized areas. It is also a work in progress to have a policy statement to work with school board officials to ensure that school capacity and facilities are maintained to meet the needs of a growing community.
Dutton said the city’s west shore has a bright future as a venue for community events.
“Some have already taken place in the area below Town Hall, and we even had a rodeo at the old lumber yard site,” he said. “The development authority is trying to commercialize it.”
West Point could have its first roundabouts by 2023. One is planned at the junction of highways 103 and 18. Two more are expected to be built at exit 2 of I-85.
These projects are delaying the start of construction of a Love’s Truck Stop which will be located in front of Friskey Whiskey.