The city has solid leadership as it heads into negotiations over a major retail development being considered in the Decatur-annexed portion of Limestone County.
Details are sparse, but city officials — bound by confidentiality agreements — say the $1.3 billion development would create up to 4,000 jobs.
Five years ago, Mayor Don Kyle was dealing with developers over Sweetwater, a Bass Pro-anchored project in the same general location. Fortunately, the project did not go forward. Developers made high demands. The recession would have jeopardized both the project and Decatur’s financial stability.
Kyle — a former banker — had a good grasp of the complexities of the Sweetwater deal. He understood the benefits, but he did not ignore the costs. If he puts the same energy and balance into his negotiations over the latest development proposal, Decatur residents can be comfortable that any deal protects the city’s interests.
Kyle has advantages he did not enjoy five years ago. Community and Economic Development Director Wally Terry, also a former banker, will be a valuable asset in negotiations. The City Council is functioning better than it has in years, with President Gary Hammon demonstrating a thorough understanding of city operations and recently elected Councilman Chuck Ard adding business expertise.
A large retail presence on Alabama 20, near the Madison County border, would not just reduce leakage of sales to Madison County, it could reverse it.
Kyle and the City Council should recognize the tremendous potential while guarding against undue risk. They are up to the task.
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