• November 28, 2014

Church returns to council's center stage

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Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 11:13 am, Thu Feb 13, 2014.

By Justin Cox

Killeen Daily Herald

The Killeen City Council has a full slate of issues for today's meeting, including a continuing open forum on how to proceed with the proposed revitalization of the downtown First Baptist Church building.

The council also is expected to discuss the employee health insurance plan, which has changed significantly in cost from a year ago, and to approve a modification of its storm water drainage ordinance as required by the state.

The council will discuss these and other topics at its 4 p.m. workshop in the main conference room at City Hall, followed by the regular meeting at 6 p.m.

Chief among the topics to be discussed tonight is the proposed revitalization of the First Baptist Church building.

The current proposal divides the building space into three parts: one-third for city staff offices, one-third as an arts and entertainment venue and one-third for the Head Start program and the Richard Milburn Academy.

At the end of last week's discussion, three of the seven council members seemed to favor the current proposed project: Scott Cosper, Juan Rivera and Ernest Wilkerson.

JoAnn Purser and Kenny Wells indicated they wanted significant changes in the proposal. Larry Cole and Billy Workman indicated they wanted to abandon the project in favor of another option.

When confronted by the possibility that the building should be sold to a resident interested in purchasing the property, Mayor Tim Hancock and several council members emphasized the protocol that the city is legally and ethically obligated to follow during a potential transaction.

Purser believes the project is anchored the wrong way.

"Over and over again, we keep talking about the downtown revitalization in our community. But what is it that will draw people?" Purser said. "How do you convince the community to come there and spend money? How does it work so that it creates a domino effect?

"I don't believe the current use of the building in this plan will bring any more people into this town four or five times a year. … It seems like we are only reaching a small portion of the community."

Wells seemed to be the swing vote closest to approving the project, but he still has many questions.

"I'm still trying to make it an acceptable thing for everyone," Wells said. "We need to find a way to make it work – then I'll support it."

Contact Justin Cox at jcox@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568.

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