City hosting strategic plan meeting for west Anniston
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Jan 07, 2014 | 2773 views |  0 comments | 80 80 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The redevelopment of the Cooper Homes public housing complex and west Anniston in general will be the focus of a community planning meeting Thursday.

The city of Anniston, in partnership with the Anniston Housing Authority and the Anniston Board of Education, will host the meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Carver Center. It will be the first in a series of meetings to gather input from west Anniston residents on how they would like to see the aging Cooper Homes and the rest of the community redeveloped in the coming years.

Mayor Vaughn Stewart said the goal of the meetings is to create a master plan for Cooper Homes and the surrounding area.

"It will be more like an architectural blueprint for the community," Stewart said.

Stewart said the city hired Birmingham-based architectural firm KPS Group to develop the plan. The city, the school board and the housing authority will each pay $10,000 to cover the $30,000 cost of the plan, Stewart said.

Councilman Seyram Selase said the west Anniston plan will be aligned with the city's One City, One Vision strategic plan. After months of work, the city is in the final stages of that planning process and could have a finished plan of redevelopment goals for the city as early as March.

Selase said the possibility of Cooper Homes’ redevelopment spurred the idea of creating a separate plan just for west Anniston, which has high poverty compared to the rest of the city, according to Census figures.

"It's in the center of west Anniston," Selase said of Cooper Homes. "We want to make sure people have a say in how it’s redeveloped."

Anniston Housing Authority Executive Director Willie McMahand said his agency is working on a comprehensive plan for the eventual redevelopment of the city's nine public housing communities. McMahand said Cooper Homes was built in the 1950s and is outdated and in need of refurbishment. Its 102 units are currently home to 95 families. McMahand added that the housing authority wants as much input from residents as possible before deciding what direction the city's public housing communities should take.

"So, depending on what happens with the west Anniston plan, that could impact our overall plan," McMahand said. "And the Cooper Homes will be up front in our plan because of the city's interest in it and the school board's interest."

Donna Ross, president of the school board, said the board has an interest in Cooper Homes given its proximity to Cobb Elementary and that some city school students live in the public housing community.

"We have an interest in making sure the area is safe and the school in the area is well attended," Ross said.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Community planning meeting for west Anniston and Cooper Homes

WHERE: Carver Community Center, 720 W. 14th St.

WHEN: Thursday, 6 p.m.

MORE INFO:
http://westannistontime.blogspot.com

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