Editorial: Stuck in first gear — It’s time City Council, Board of Ed make substantive moves on Anniston Middle
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Aug 26, 2013 | 1602 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print

An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly implied the Board of Education and City Council had taken formal action to hire financial advisers to determine how to proceed with a transfer of the Anniston Middle School property. The board’s attorney recommended each body hire a financial adviser.

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No one is asking the Anniston City Council or the Board of Education to hand over Anniston Middle School to a developer without first asking pertinent questions.

No one is asking the council or the board to take an unfair, substantial financial hit.

And no one is expecting the city to roll over, like a lap-dog who’s sniffed a Milk Bone, and meekly acquiesce to whatever plan the board has regarding the middle school.

All that’s being asked — by fair-minded people, at least — is this: Get on with it.

Seems we should count Anniston City Councilwoman Millie Harris as one of those fair-minded people.

“Here’s something that everyone needs to know,” she said last Friday after a joint council-BOE meeting. “We have a window of opportunity with this retail situation, and if we drag it out too long, it’s going to go away and it’s going to be another lost opportunity for Anniston. Time is of the essence.”

Another lost opportunity for Anniston.

Hear that, Annistonians? Sound familiar? Of course it does.

The merry-go-round of talking-meeting-debating-planning-analyzing-listening goes on around Anniston Middle School, which the board decided in May to close as part of a system-wide reorganization.

The move makes sense. Anniston’s schools and its dwindling student population don’t need so many campuses, and the city can put the middle school acreage to grande use by developing it as retail or commercial property.

Unfortunately, the saga of Anniston Middle is caught up in one of the unfortunate traits of decision-making in this city: There’s too much contemplating and hand-wringing, too much changing of plans in mid-stream, and not enough decisive action. A generation of politicians and board members has known Anniston Middle was a bad fit for its location on Alabama 21 and has considered a myriad avenues that would lead to closure. Since the school opened in 1987, the only option the city hasn’t considered is picking Anniston Middle up, loading it onto a trailer and trucking it south to a more-desirable location.

The point: It’s time for real decisions that move the process forward.

On this issue, Councilwoman Harris is Grade-A right. The economy is slowly improving and developers are getting back to work. Anniston’s next viable retail opportunity sits on Alabama 21, just across the street from McClellan. The longer Anniston’s council and Board of Education sit around tables and plan meetings to make future plans, that opportunity might slip away.
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