Candidates Make Opposition to Church Youth Center a Campaign Issue

February 17, 2015 By:West U News Staff

Local News

This story has been updated sine its original post. 

A local church wants to build a youth center. But Former City Councilmember and Mayor Bob Kelly and local activist Brennan Reilly think a church youth center is a bad idea. Both are candidates for city council in the May 9 municipal elections and both are hoping to use their opposition to the West University Baptist Church youth facility as a springboard for a successful campaign.

Reilly has even suggested the use of eminent domain against the church, a legal technique that lets a government forcibly take private property, to prevent the church from building its proposed 7,500 sq. ft. youth center. Others, like current Mayor Bob Fry, believe a new youth center is a positive thing for West University Place and should be encouraged.

West University Baptist Church has been in West University Place since 1941 and gave the city the land where City Hall is located.

Every West University Place home received an informational packet in the mail explaining general land-use plans for the possible future locations of some city facilities to occur over the next half-century. The proposal is a non-binding outline for future city councils and can be changed at any time by a majority vote of any future city council.

Also discussed in the informational packet is the possibility of West U trading several church owned lots that abut City Hall for the land that is the location of the Public Works Maintenance Facility. The Public Works Maintenance Facility houses the solid waste/recycling, fleet maintenance, and traffic operations. The facility also includes a full-service vehicle and equipment repair and maintenance operation.

Under this scenario, the unsightly Public Works Maintenance Facility would be relocated outside the West University Place city limits and the church youth facility would take its place at the northeast corner of Milton and College. The city would gain ownership of three lots on Amherst Street that abut the western boundary of City Hall.

The mayor and city council believed they faced an either/or choice – make the land swap with the church, or do nothing which blocks the potential future campus or greenspace once a multi-million dollar youth facility is built behind City Hall.

Kelly and Reilly both oppose the construction of a church youth facility at either location. The current mayor and city council disagree with Kelly and Reilly. “Your city council feels strongly that we are creating a plan that will allow future city councils and residents many more options when it comes time to rebuild the city facilities as they reach the end of their useful life as well as being in the best interests of affected property owners,” said West University Place Mayor Bob Fry, “All we ask is that you read the informational brochure with an open mind.”

15 Responses to “Candidates Make Opposition to Church Youth Center a Campaign Issue”

  1. longcat Says:

    I think it’s more about the ability of any organization to ignore the single family zoning we have and build in effect a commercial scale structure and parking lot amongst residences that scares me. If I lived anywhere near these blocks I’d be concerned over traffic implications and what the long term plan for the church is – will they start acquiring lots on the south side of University next to build who knows what (and pull them off the tax rolls for the city)? Probably not, but as the city seems to be either powerless or acquiescent to anything WUBC wants to do, nothing can be ruled out entirely.

  2. advocatefortransparency Says:

    While we’re on the subject of transparency, wasn’t it former Mayor Kelly that immediately left town after Hurricane Ike while the rest of us went weeks without power? I remember staff trying to make excuses for him but there was no denying that he bolted. More transparency to come.

    • Says:

      advocate, do you have an ax to grind with Mayor Kelly? Your snarky comments here are unnecessary and unrelated to the issue. Could it be that you have not had your medication today?

  3. Lucille Gallman Says:

    Will the Youth Center provide housing for Youth who need a place to live?

    • proreligionwestu Says:

      No, this is a youth ministry building that will serve 6th graders to 12th graders. It is a function that currently exists in the building on Amherst.

  4. proreligionwestu Says:

    Is there anyone running against this slate yet? I just want to know where to send my money to support others who run against this anti-religion group.

    • College Resident Says:

      Why does objecting to something the church wants to do mean that one is anti-religion?

      What does Religion have to do with this? Stop playing the “victim” card. This has nothing to do with Religion so don’t bring it into the picture…OK? Unless you want to play the victim so we can all feel sorry about the church.

      The church already gets whatever they want AND will continue to get anything they want including the land swap, the Youth Center and whatever other scheme they come up with in the future much to the detriment of the tax payers of West University. So for God’s sake PLEASE stop crying!

      • proreligionwestu Says:

        Objecting to the youth center is one thing but saying that you’re going to take their property by condemnation is quite another. Get the facts.

  5. advocatefortransparency Says:

    If I slandered anyone it was the current city secretary and I apologize for that. Of course it was the former city secretary who was fired shortly after her escapades with Kelly. I’m sure the infamous recording will ultimately be played that was left by the former city secretary. It is salacious but not slanderous.

  6. Says:

    Who owns InstantNews???? Could it be advocatefortransparancy?
    Let’s see some traffic studies and financial information before moving forward. It’s called Due Diligence and benefits everyone. What’s the hurry?

  7. Brokelyn Says:

    Mr. Kelly, what is your opposition to the plan? I agreed with the opposition when the Council was prepared to act unilaterally. The subsequent uproar restored the process to its rightful path and now citizens are well-informed and their opinions are being solicited. You did a good job of stopping something from going wrong.

    But now I’m not sure what you’re opposing? The process has been fixed. The proposal seems quite reasonable. Please advance the issue or consider your work done.

    Thank you.

  8. advocatefortransparency Says:

    Kelly’s right, we need more transparency starting with shining the light on his four person slate of candidates. Ballanfant, Kelly, Reilly, and Turner are anti-everything including religion. In addition to going out drinking with the city secretary when he was mayor Kelly ramrodded a $7 million new police station through with no comments, no public meetings, and no surveys. Where was the citizen input Kelly?

    There have been at least 20 public meetings and at least 50 articles written on the youth center subject over the last four months.

    • Says:

      advocatefortransparancy, afraid to reveal yourself, you lie. Nasty comments regarding our city secretary and calling Mayor Kelly anti-religion is called slander. Reveal yourself, you limp wristed twit.

      • Says:

        Some derogatory statements have no place here, and likely are not true. As far as spending a load of tax money, our money may be best spent by hiring a team of private investigators to find out who will benefit from the Super Block Plan and the Edloe St. shopping mall. There are consultants, engineers, developers, builders, politicians and city employees that may benefit at taxpayers expense. No harm in getting to the truth.

  9. Bob Kelly. Former Mayor Says:

    That I think the proposed WUBC Youth Center is a bad thing and that I have suggested the use of eminent domain (condemnation) against WUBC is false. The person who is part of the Instantnews staff who wrote these false accusations doesn’t even have the character to sign their name to such. I call that person out to let your readers know who you are.
    My position on the WUBC is that they have inadvertently found themselves in a mess created by WU Council and Staff. There has been a complete lack of transparency and no citizen input in the Super Block/ Land Swap until the Council and Staff were forced to do so by WU citizens.
    The Instantnews staff person who wrote the above is doing a grave injustice to WUBC in attempting to drag them into a political fight.
    This entire effort to draw the WUBC into the current City Council elections does not warrant anyone participating in the future with this so call publication.

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