The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Western Tribune column February 25, 2009

Bessemer needs stimulus in leadership

One online dictionary offers the following definition: Stimulus - noun: something that incites to action or exertion or quickens action, feeling, thought, etc.

Bessemer needs a different kind of stimulus. I don’t mean the kind the president is offering, although that would help too. No, I’m talking about a stimulus of leadership.

City Hall sits in the center of town. Soon it may be in the center of a ghost town, other than the County Courthouse and the numerous law offices that accompany it.

The leaders at City Hall seem to be stimulating their neighbors to leave.

Instead, they need to be stimulating the Presbyterians to stay and more redevelopment for downtown, not less.

First Presbyterian Church, which sits at the same intersection, has plans to vacate its property and move out to Eastern Valley Road. I guess they don’t understand that downtown Bessemer has needs, maybe more so, than the areas outside of town.

We’ve seen what happens to abandoned churches in our area of Bessemer. The former Broken Vessel Church, formerly South Highland Baptist, has gone from being a landmark example of historic architecture to an empty shell after being abandoned twice in the last few years.

Fortunately an individual has plans for that building which would benefit the entire community. Let’s hope her dream is realized.

Next door to City Hall sits another building, the owner of which is abandoning plans to re-develop after what he says is the city’s failure to follow through with CDBG funds that were promised.

Not all of downtown is in a slump, however. The new County Courthouse will soon be complete. Unfortunately, the building has all the personality of a cardboard box. When compared to the historic buildings that were torn down to build it, it just seems utilitarian.

Just a couple of blocks away sits a pile of brick and rubble. Soon this will be cleaned up. Really. A new State DHR building for the Bessemer Cutoff area will be built. The Public Building Authority has chosen an architect that assures us the building will fit in with the style of the city. And I think they understand that our style was established before the new Courthouse was built.

We welcome the federal stimulus, but those of us interested in downtown development would also welcome being incited to action by our local leaders as well.


Anonymous said...

A note to the First Presbyterian Church in Downtown Bessemer... When they decided to let go of their beloved and respected member of the local community as their pastor they have only gone downhill. Their membership is primarily out-of-towners and they believe that the location is hindering any growth. I have maintained that the warmth and charm of the church and its people were what had me going there but when the decision was made that to let go of the pastor for no good reason but for "change" they shot themselves in the leg. They are moving because they think a "building" will fix the wounds they have but I fear they will just indebt themselves and it will be the same church. Don't get me wrong... the members are wonderful people and I love to visit there from time to time so I am just saddened at the decisions that chuch's make in the name of "change"...

Joe said...

I never understood the decision to let the pastor go either.

Joe said...

I never understood the decision to let the pastor go either.

Anonymous said...

Joe what are the plans for South Highland. That is the church of my childhood.