Union County Pulse
Recently, a story appeared in the UCW titled Industrial park for Indian Trail? I don’t believe that statements made in the story, by certain Indian Trail officials, accurately convey what residents need to know about this issue. Here’s what I know. Well over a year ago, Mr. Ewing and Mr. Trotter, from the Union County Partnership for Progress, shared with me their idea about the possibility for an Industrial Park project in our town. They had identified a particular parcel of land they believed could be a great location for an industrial park.
Last summer, the two men called me with more information and to seek advice. The owners of the land and other business interests had been approached in order to determine whether it might be feasible to further explore such a project. I also learned that there had been ongoing discussions and collaboration with Town Manager Fivas, Planning Director Shelly DeHart and other staff so as to share information and discuss possibilities. However, since having those discussions, Mr. Fivas was apparently not providing clear direction as to whether the town would support moving forward. The men asked if I could help them get the direction they needed. They welcomed an opportunity to speak to the council.
There has been no public presentation to the council about this issue, but according to Council Woman Luther, the council knew nothing at all about an industrial park idea. That is difficult to believe, but if she is telling the truth and they have never been briefed on this matter, the resulting problem and confusion rests squarely on Mr. Fivas. Should not he bring such matters of significance to the council instead of keeping them in the dark? In a properly run government, this kind of communication vacuum should be unacceptable, but in Indian Trail Town Hall, my experience tells me that all too often, staff has been allowed to set the agenda, make policy decisions and pretty much make the call about what, when and how things get done. Then, the council is asked to sign off on it. I believe that the people expect their elected officials to be more involved and informed before making decisions.
Carlton wrote; “Fivas also said that Progress officials had not communicated with the town at all before presenting the idea to the county as a major initiative.” That statement is not true as there was communication with the town. It also implies that UCPP was somehow out of line in reporting their ongoing activities to the Commissioners. Additionally, my understanding is that this is an idea that could be important, but it is not at the level of a “major initiative”. For that to happen, the town would have to be on board as an active partner.
Council members Luther and Allen and their recently departed cronies don’t seem to like UCPP. The reason, I guess, would be because they can’t control them and take credit for what UCPP does. Our taxes pay for UCPP so we ought to take full advantage of their expertise and listen to their ideas. Mr. Ewing and Mr. Trotter have more knowledge and experience than anyone in Indian Trail’s Town Hall.
The recent Wingate economic development study told us that we should be looking to attract companies that would bring sustainable economic growth with good paying jobs. An industrial Park would generate hundreds of thousands in new property tax revenue to the town, helping to balance the tax base and keep resident’s taxes low. The project (if built) could bring 1000 higher paying jobs instead of the minimum wage, part time, or hospitality industry jobs Ms. Luther favors. Retail and hospitality businesses will always be attracted to a thriving community, but that should not be the foundation of a town’s economic development strategy.
Finally, I don’t know if the proposed location is an ideal place for an industrial park, but I believe the town council owes it to our residents to fully explore the possibilities, and give the residents all the facts before making a determination whether it is right for Indian Trail. It certainly seems like it has great potential for success due to the fact that the location would be next to the railroad tracks. Isn’t that where heavy business should be located instead of residential housing?