The Huntington Municipal Development Authority's decision to purchase the ACF Industries site along 3rd Avenue for $3.12 million as part of a plan to redevelop the Highlawn area brought a mix of reaction from online readers.
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, who serves on the board, said several parties have come forward with an interest to develop the property. He did not elaborate on who the interested parties might be, but said there have been discussions to build a hotel and manufacturing possibilities in that area.
The property is central to a plan to remake that area and surrounding properties into the Huntington Brownfields Innovation Zone, or H-BIZ. This was a key component of a plan Huntington leaders submitted to the America's Best Communities competition, winning a $3 million grand prize in April 2017 to help make it a reality.
Some readers praised the deal, others raised questions, and some commented on the longstanding factory property, which built railroad cars. Here's a sampling:
Renee Wagers: "I see visions of another Marshall parking lot!!"
Angie Miller: "My daddy worked there for almost 40 years; makes my heart hurt that they no longer make rail cars. ... That place was amazing ..."
Susan Goodall Aliff Gordy: "My grandpa worked at ACF as a millwright from 1923 until (I think) 1965."
Steve Jackson: "Huntington doesn't need another hotel, though we need jobs, we need things for our kids to do ... we don't need places to eat either. There needs to be more activities for the youth."
Larry Mullett II: "There are plenty of things for children to do in this city. ... There are plenty more lists at the CVB and I'm sure that Information and Referral has a good list as well."
Linda Rosolowski Blough: "What kinds of things do you think should be here for kids to do? Besides the free art museum Tuesdays, free movies, free concerts, free monthly nature hikes at the parks, sporting events at Marshall and Huntington High, various food festivals, concerts, Easter egg hunts, criterium bike race, various 5Ks, free monthly family bike rides, outdoor theater, movie theaters, and story times at all the libraries, to name a few things?"
Adam Collins: "Hotels and places to eat mean jobs, too."
Steve Jackson: "Yes it does, but not the kind of jobs that people really need. Minimum wage isn't even close to what it should be."
Jan Hite King: "Horrible idea! Who's gonna pay for the cleanup? 60 feet down is contamination. The cleanup alone will cost tens of millions."
Brenda Markins Baylous: "I'm not holding my breath! It makes a great tax write-off for (the current owner)!"
Timbo Nunnery: "Knowing Huntington's business development planning commission, they'll recruit a Dollar General and an Autozone to go in."
Dan Taylor: "Glad to see the city making progress!"
Tim Norris: "This is wonderful news."
Ron Stark: "I smell an unusually stupid scheme afoot. Possibly a 'round about' way for some other organization to acquire the land?"
Marvin Bompus: "Got a feeling after everything said and done Marshall University will end up with the property. Steve Williams caters to them."
Otis L. Aldridge Jr.: "Is this one of those deals where the city gets a 'great deal' on the selling price, and the taxpayers pay to clean up someone else's mess? The ACF property is soaked in leaded paint and who knows what else."
Kyle William Tibbs: "HMDA is a separate organization from the city and finances their own projects. They work hand in hand with the city. Currently that property is an eyesore and I would hope they tear it down and sell it to Marshall or something that will help revitalize the area. Since it's currently an empty building, anything would be better."
Neil Capper: "Brownfield cleanups are funded by federal grants administered by the EPA. Assessment/cleanup often costs more than the grants provide (they're usually capped at $250,000 to $300,000) and the difference has to be made up by third parties."