10/28/05 — Neighborhood speaks out

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Neighborhood speaks out

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 28, 2005 1:50 PM

Cars lined Maplewood Drive Thursday as nearly 50 residents turned out for the second in a series of city-sponsored neighborhood meetings.

Neighbors, city officials and councilmen gathered on Maplewood Racquet Club's tennis courts to meet, greet and discuss pressing issues in the community.

City Manager Joe Huffman said the goal of Thursday's meeting and the others is to create a community founded on collaboration and awareness.

As the sun set and evening air grew chilly, Mayor Al King offered some warm words to those in attendance, and outlined the structure of the meeting.

"We have been looking forward to this," King said. "We're here to listen and to talk about issues that affect a major portion of you who are here."

King then turned the microphone over to Huffman, who introduced the department heads and councilmen present. Council members Chuck Allen, Jackie Warrick, Bob Waller, Jimmy Bryan and Don Chatman showed their support for the neighbors in Maplewood and spoke to the crowd before opening the floor for public comment.

"I have talked to three or four of the people here tonight about certain issues," said Warrick, who represents Maplewood's district. "And we will certainly try to get your problems solved."

After council members addressed the neighbors, boxes of pizza and coolers filled with soft drinks were offered. During dinner, neighbors were given an opportunity to meet their representatives and talk with city staff about general concerns and recent happenings.

During the public comment session, only a few words were said, and no major concerns were voiced. Mark Gourley, who serves as president of the Maplewood Home Owners Association, said he felt most of the issues plaguing neighbors in the area had been resolved before Thursday.

"Mr. Warrick has been very responsive to our concerns," he said. "People came out tonight to hear from and meet the city staff and councilmen."

Gourley and others noted that despite the lack of comment, there are still a few minor concerns within Maplewood.

"We have had some issues with speeding," Gourley said.

Mayor King told Gourley that the residents of the Maplewood community have set an example for other neighborhoods in Goldsboro by voicing their concerns and welcoming help from the city. Water quality and issues with littering are being resolved, they said, leaving many in the neighborhood satisfied with the progress they have seen.

With no additional public comments remaining, King and Huffman kicked off the break-out session portion of the meeting, which gave neighbors an opportunity to discuss personal issues with the proper department heads, shake hands and meet for the first time.

Neighbor Melissa Wojihowski thanked city staff and the council for all they have done for Maplewood.

"I am seeing so much of a difference in the community from five years ago," she said. "We had a lot of problems, and they are getting better."

The date and location of the next neighborhood meeting have not been set, but officials said due to the time change and onset of winter, it won't occur until after the first of the year.