SEABROOK SAYS: Charles Gray is approaching the age of 80 and is consistently operating with tremendous energy. One of the hard questions he asks is, “Have we (in Gaston County) turned the corner?” What is your answer? Are you ready to get involved in the same level as Charlie? Why yes? Why no? NOW THAT YOU KNOW, WHAT WILL YOU DO?
In the past, I have expressed concern over Gastonia’s failure to grow in comparison to other cities in Metrolina. I cited past reputation, missed opportunities, and unfavorable city regulations and inspections as reasons for our slow growth. Recently, however, I have seen the following signs of hope (many of the facts have been furnished by Bill Seabrook):
The Loray Mill and redevelopment of the Loray Mill. The converted mill is now 96% occupied and we mill houses are scheduled for renovation and sale.
The proposed sports center in West Gastonia. The Sears building has already been purchased and the 15 million dollar project is scheduled for completion in 2019.
The hotel in downtown Gastonia, with the first phase scheduled for opening in
March of 2017.
The Harriss-Teeter shopping center and the new YMCA in South Gastonia. The 19
million dollar YMCA project, headed by Tony Sigmon, has already been funded by local contributions and should be a showplace for the whole region.
The formation of Gaston Outside (GO) under the leadership of Mark Cramer, who is working hard to improve Gaston’s image as a desirable place to live.
A new attitude at city hall to make Gastonia more development friendly. The city
council, under the direction of Mayor John Bridgeman, is providing strong leadership and the planning and inspections departments under the guidance of city manager Ed Munn and Flip Bombardier, are showing the much needed flexibility to encourage developers to come to Gastonia.
The soon to be constructed artspace building will encourage the development of arts and culture in downtown Gastonia.
Through the hard work of our local school officials and Carrie Meier, Chris Dobbins
and Steve Eason at our health department, teen pregnancy is down more that 52.7% with a tax savings of 40 million dollars. Our school drop-out rate is down and the graduation rate is up.
The advanced manufacturing facility is well under way adjacent to the campus of
Gaston College and should be completed ny the Spring of 2017.
There are other needed projects, such as the southern bridge over the Catawba River and the expansion of the water and sewer down Union and New Hope Roads, but I believe Gastonia has turned the corner.
The other day I was playing golf with a young, successful real estate developer in Charlotte. When he found out I was from Gastonia, he said, “I sure wish I lived in Gastonia. The traffic in Charlotte is unbearable.” This tells me that our questionable reputation is fading and that Gastonia can be an ideal place for people to live and work in this rapidly growing area. Let’s don’t foul it up.