ANDERSON — Residents of the city’s west side vented frustration Tuesday at the slow pace of progress in redevelopment of the area after city officials admitted they’d been working on a plan for 15 years.

After the Anderson Redevelopment Commission unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night to continue working toward the acquisition of property in the area around Nichol and Raible avenues for future development, residents spoke about their perception that city government has neglected the west side.

Resident Janice Tolbert said progress has been much too slow.

“We can’t really afford to wait year after year. Our community is dying,” she said. “If they have a million dollars to put into Sirmax, why don’t they give us a little grocery store?”

City Council in September approved a $1.75 million economic development tax increment revenue bond for a new company locating in Anderson. The company is owned by Sirmax.

Commission members said Tuesday that they were concerned about the west side, but Tolbert said she didn’t believe them.

“I just don’t understand why it’s taking so long. We can’t even get our street paved,” she said.

City Council President Rebecca Crumes was part of a very vocal, almost disruptive, public that demanded commission members produce a written comprehensive plan for the west side. She said that area never has been a priority for the city.

“You just thinking of stuff as you go, or what?” Crumes asked. “I think we need more community input. These boards run like they’re running the whole show.”

Lindsay Brown, who grew up on the west side and owns property there, said things would go more smoothly for the commission in its attempt to acquire the Speedway property if they sought community buy-in.

Anderson Economic Development Director Greg Winkler defended the city’s progress toward improving the west side.

“I don’t want the public to think there hasn’t been careful consideration of a plan,” he said.

But commission member Kevin Sulc also expressed frustration with the slow process and asked when there would be a plan for the area.

“I would be totally against piecemealing this together one project at a time. If it is, this will be the last time I vote yes on this project,” he said.

Sulc said he had been preaching for three or four years that a real plan was necessary.

“That would give me confidence in a yes vote today, and that would prevent a no vote in the future,” he said.

Commission member Aspen Clemons asked for a site plan.

“If you’re not comfortable giving one, can you give us three or four options for how it will play out?” she asked.
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