NORTHPORT CITIZENS TO ADDRESS COMMUNITY CENTER ISSUE TONIGHT
Citizens opposed to the sale of the Park Street Northport Community Center site to property developers held up signs and tried to speak when the city council tentatively approved sale of the property to Beeker Property Group at a meeting earlier this month. Some of them are expected to be back at tonight's meeting as two citizens, Paige Spencer and Sandra Barnidge, are on the agenda to address the council about the issue.
According to Council President Jeff Hogg, the some 3.5 acre site would be used as a two-story multi-purpose development with a stand-alone coffee shop. The upper floor would be utilized for short and log-term residential space. The first floor would combine a restaurant with retail development. The purchase price would total $1.1 million.
Hogg attempted to tell the concerned citizens that there has been a lot of misinformation about the project but was interrupted repeatedly by residents upset with what many called highhanded tactics to push through to a vote. At one point Hogg threatened to suspend the meeting and asked Northport Police officers to maintain order in the council chamber.
Former Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon told Tuscaloosa Thread, the council handled the issue poorly and should have had a plan for a new center ready to present in an effort to mitigate opposition. "Before the council brought that up for a vote or discussion there should have been a plan for a new senior citizens/community center somewhere. They should have been ready to present some alternative plans before they ever brought it before the public." Herndon believes had they done so some of the contentiousness could have been reduced.
Herndon added that he has always wanted to see something new like a Krispy Kreme or other retail business on the property next to the community center. That proposal also ran into disapproval by some.
The current project would replace not only the community center but also a green space, some historic structures on display and a playground. Hogg mentioned that the council is amendable to finding another site to replace the current community center.
For the deal to reach final fruition it must pass a final council vote.