PINE MOUNTAIN – West Point will celebrate its newly renovated recreation facilities on Feb. 15 with a public open house and other events, but soon after will be putting local residents to work for the next phase.
The city will hold a “family fun afternoon” from 3:30 to 6 p.m. with leaders from the city, Troup County and Point University. Local youth from recreation teams will throw out the first pitch, first shot and first kick on the renovated fields. The facilities will be open to the youth and the public, along with hot dogs and other refreshments, as soon as the official part of the afternoon is over.
Recreation facilities have been the focus of the first part of a plan in the works since 2010 to redevelop a large portion of the city. City leaders are hoping renovated facilities spur other development, including housing and commercial growth.
The plan hit a public relations problem, however, when Point University rented the recreation facilities upon moving to the city a year ago. A small but vocal group of residents complained they were being shut out of using the fields and buildings in favor of Point’s athletic programs. The open house was planned, partly, in response to that.
But West Point City Council also will open up the next round of planning to residents to make sure they have a say in what’s built next. The city held meetings with residents for the first phase but will do it again.
Some ideas for the next phase of recreation facilities mentioned the first time were: an indoor facility for hockey, basketball, and zumba, tumbling and other classes. An “aquatic feature,” either a pool or a splash park, also was mentioned.
“We’d like to go through a similar public planning process,” that was done before, Mayor Drew Ferguson IV said at a retreat of council members Thursday.
That will likely start with a “listening session” in March with residents, council and a third-party facilitator.
Some council members questioned the need for a facilitator when they only were going to take ideas from residents.
“It works better with a third party,” Ferguson said. “Elected officials can be perceived as driving the process.”
The facilitators also know the best questions and surveys to ask residents to get the results.
“We have a plan and we’ve accomplished some parts of it,” said Councilman Joe Downs. “There may be some additions,” after the listening sessions.
For more news from the West Point Council retreat, see the weekend edition of the LaGrange Daily News.