09/16/05 — City officials, residents meet on the street

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City officials, residents meet on the street

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on September 16, 2005 1:53 PM

The first in a series of neighborhood meetings created by the Goldsboro City Council took place Thursday night at 100 South Kornegay St. Police blocked off the area and residents were encouraged to join council members, city department heads and others for dinner, open discussion of issues and break-out sessions designed to address needs specific to the neighborhood.

The goal of this meeting, and those to follow, was to give the neighborhood and city officials an opportunity to meet, learn from one another through open dialogue and find ways to address the citizens' needs.

Mayor Al King and City Manager Joe Huffman opened the meeting with words of encouragement for those who attended.

"Our goal here is to learn from you," King said. "This is about you telling us what issues are important to you."

After explaining for neighbors the purpose and goals of the meeting, King and Huffman introduced the council members and department heads in attendance and then opened the forum for comments. During the comments, those present were served food and soft drinks provided by Pizza Inn and Coca-Cola.

Charles Jackson moved to Goldsboro three years ago after serving in the military for 20 years. He said he sees many problems facing the neighborhood and believes that together with city officials, residents living along on Kornegay Street can create change.

"The reason we have so much drug activity, violence and crime is because there are no jobs," Jackson said. "There has got to be a change."

The crowd applauded his remarks. Other issues quickly surfaced as nearly a dozen more neighbors took the microphone.

Richard Roberts and his wife also recently moved to Goldsboro. They said they see a potential for positive growth in Goldsboro, but said many people have become accustomed to a lower quality of life in certain neighborhoods.

"I see a lack of hope on too many faces," Jackson said. "As the city grows, we need not forget those who are disadvantaged."

Jackson and others said they see many problems plaguing their neighborhood, including lack of financial support from the city, landlords who don't maintain dwellings properly, unemployment, drugs, violence, litter, public urination and disrespectful people occupying condemned houses.

After hearing comments, Huffman responded to individual concerns and offered to meet again with neighbors on specific issues.

Before the break-out sessions, in which neighbors got an opportunity to talk with specific department heads on particular issues, other council members offered their reactions to the problems presented.

Councilman Bob Waller, who represents District 2, made a plea to those who attended the meeting, insisting that a joint effort from neighbors and council members could bring about change.

"I challenge you to become involved," he urged. "It's your city."

Roughly 40 people attended the meeting, not including dozens of representatives from the city. Mayor King called the public meeting a great success and said he hopes the next neighborhood is as vocal and productive as the first.

"We're ready to get to work," King said. "And we will do our best to show people that our primary goal is to improve the quality of life for everyone in this city."

The mayor said the site and date of the next neighborhood meeting would be announced soon. The City Council meets Monday night at City Hall.