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High Point votes to come up with alternative finance plan for stadium project

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- High Point City Council members voted Monday to move forward with the High Point stadium project, with or without the help of the Guilford County Commissioners.

Council members voted 8-1 to adopt a resolution at a special closed-door meeting Monday night. The city council can hold private meetings when they pertain to issues of economic development. They announced the plan to FOX8 immediately after the private meeting.

City Councilwoman Cynthia Davis voted against the resolution.

"I feel that the citizens still have questions that haven't been answered," she said. "We don't have a firm commitment on the $30 million and how we're going to do it yet, and I think it's premature to be making plans to demo property, when we're not even sure if we have the $30 million to move forward on the project."

"I think any questions that she had, I think they were answered in all the work that's gone in the vetting process about every other meeting we've had," City Councilman Chris Williams said in response.

The resolution contains three parts. First, it instructs city staff to come up with an alternative way to finance the rest of the stadium.

City council members say this is in direct response to last week's Guilford County Commission meeting. The city wanted the county to fund about 20 percent of the stadium's cost by giving up extra tax revenue.

County commissioners decided to table the issue for 60 to 90 days, but High Point City Council members say they need to move forward now in order to have the stadium open by April 2019.

"We also have commitments that we made to developers that want to build here, to our philanthropy community that's raised so much money, and unfortunately, we can't delay things as the county commissioners want us to do," said Jay Wagner, a city council member and candidate for mayor of High Point. "We've got to go ahead and move ahead at this time."

Secondly, the council voted to allocate $5 million of the stadium funds to prepare the site for construction. That includes leveling the site and addressing any environmental concerns by December.

Finally, the city council voted to form a four-person committee that will work directly with county commissioners to address any concerns they have about funding the project.

City council members told FOX8 they still want the Guilford County Commissioners as a financial partner, and they want them to adopt the city's inter-local agreement on the stadium. But city council members also said county commissioners need to take immediate action or they risk losing opportunities for development around the stadium.

"I don't think High Point will look the same in five years,” Williams said. “I know it won't look the same in 10."

"I'm not against the stadium project,” Davis said. “I'm concerned about the method, and I'm concerned about the funding."

Davis says the project should be paid for using private funds not taxpayer dollars.

"If something happens, they're the ones that have to foot the bill," she said.

"The stadium is going to drive a hotel. It's going to drive 200 apartments downtown," City Councilman Latimer Alexander said. "It's going to drive the children's center, a park. It's going to drive lots of economic activity and that economic activity is going to give downtown High Point some life."