11/20/07 — Speakers protest transition home on West Walnut Street

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Speakers protest transition home on West Walnut Street

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on November 20, 2007 1:46 PM

Advocates of a halfway house asked members of the Goldsboro City Council to "look into their moral conscience," and approve the use of a building on West Walnut Street for that purpose.

Margaret Rosemary was one of the advocates who spoke at a public hearing during the council's meeting Monday night.

She and several other people urged council members and residents of the neighborhood to be open-minded about the proposal, which would allow Operation Transition to place 18 former prison inmates in the home while they make the transition back to society.

The house is located between North George Street and North Virginia Street.

"We need to treat people like human beings," said Timothy Whitfield, another advocate. "These people need someone that won't stereotype them. We can make Goldsboro, Godsboro."

Others spoke about personal experiences, being incarcerated, and finding it difficult to get a job. One speaker said he had walked the streets to find a job day and night until someone gave him a chance. Another talked about how he was once a drug dealer, "going corner to corner," but he turned his life around and is now an educator.

But not all the speakers favored the idea.

Mark Webb, president of the board of directors of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp., asked the council to consider the investment that the city has made in the downtown area and not to jeopardize the progress that has been made.

Webb said the DGDC and the city are aiming toward bringing in more owner-occupied, single family homes, not more boarding houses or apartment buildings.

Local lawyer and historic homeowner Randy Sauls agreed with Webb.

He said the program is a good thing, but he doesn't think it should be there.

Goldsboro has come a long way, he added, and the new Operation Transition building would hinder efforts toward downtown revitalization.

"When we first moved here, people would say, 'Don't move to that part of town.' Whatever that means," Sauls said. "I see it as being the tipping point. It's like a fulcrum."

Even though the neighborhood is being revitalized, one bad decision could send the fulcrum back the other way, and allowing the transition building would send the neighborhood a step back, he added.

Local attorney and historian Charlie Gaylor also stood up to speak.

"I agree with the idea that people need to have a place like this to transition," he said. "I don't think this is where it needs to be. At the end of the day, what you do reflects on everybody in the neighborhood."

A second public hearing was held on a rezoning request to rezone Import Auto Center property on the northeast corner of Royall and Jefferson avenues from neighborhood business to general business conditional district. No one spoke for or against the proposal.

In other business, council members approved a sewer agreement between the city and Stoney Creek Free Will Baptist Church as well as a transfer of properties located at 400 and 406 S. John St. to Self-Help for building new homes.

And Mayor Al King and council members Bob Waller, Donnie Chatman, the Rev. Charles Williams, Chuck Allen and Jackie Warrick were sworn back into office.

Council member Jimmy Bryan was present for Monday's meeting but it likely was his last. Michael Headen, who was elected to the seat earlier this month, is expected to be sworn into the seat at the council's next meeting on Dec. 3. Bryan did not seek re-election.

Also, the council approved Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnership Program policies and procedures, a geographic information system strategic implementation plan, an agreement with the state Department of Transportation for the construction of U.S. 70 from Salem Church Road to Wayne Memorial Drive and the implementation of a pay and class study for city personnel.