By Sara Belsole
COLUMBUS, GA - For the past two years, it was full steam ahead on the plan to revitalize the Liberty District.
Until last week, when the Housing Authority abruptly withdrew its proposal.
"We got some opposition. We met several times to try and work through that and weren't able to do so," Housing Authority Executive Director Len Williams says.
That opposition came from city leaders like Tax Commissioner Lula Huff and Councilman Pops Barnes.
The plan would have given Booker T. Washington Apartments a facelift and placed new apartments around the Liberty District to promote growth. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson calls it a missed opportunity.
"It's disappointing that weren't able to take this opportunity, but we are going to look for the next. I just don't know if it's going to be $32 million of investment," Tomlinson says.
Some called the spirited debate about how to move forward with the project a political nightmare, but Tomlinson says that's not the case. She says she will continue to fight for those who elected her.
"I ran on the platform of returning blighted areas to vibrancy and I will continue to do that whether it's the Liberty or anywhere else," Tomlinson says.
Even without the Liberty District Plan, the Housing Authority will still renovate Booker T. Washington. Either the Authority will level the property and build half of the new apartments there and half at another location, or just renovate what is already at the existing site.
"We will meet our goal fine. What we were trying to do was really help the community by investing in an area that did not have much investment potential," Williams says.
The public meeting scheduled for Friday on the Liberty District was canceled with the plans were stopped.
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