Attitude, not money, key to city's future, mayor says
By Anessa Myers
Published in News on April 15, 2008 1:58 PM
Mayor Al King spoke to the city of Goldsboro in the form of a taped speech on Monday night about its past, present and future.
In his first-ever State of the City address, King said that the night was a historic one, but 2007 had also been a year like none other in Goldsboro's history.
He spoke of the revitalization of the downtown neighborhoods and investments made in the city, both in the downtown area and outside of it.
"When initial revitalization efforts could have been halted, we did not balk when confronted with challenges," he said. "Instead, we persevered, deciding to make an investment now to secure our economic well-being into the future. We made the choice to move forward with the enthusiasm and commitment, remained committed and are now experiencing that momentum."
More than 500 building permits were issued during the year, but more importantly, investments because of those permits totaled over $82 million -- investments that everyone can see, he added.
"So what does it mean? The easiest way to communicate that is to look around," King said. "We are attracting new investment but to enhance that process, other structures are coming down as well. Do you notice changes? Does your city look better? Do you feel more pride in your community? I think the answer is a resounding, 'Yes.'"
He told citizens that money wasn't the first basic ingredient to neighborhood renewal.
"Attitude is," he said. "In those areas where neighbors are involved, where citizens take initiative and action, the environment for comprehensive progress exists."
He admitted that some of the neighborhoods surrounding the downtown area are in distress.
"You see boarded up houses, houses that may be rental property and houses in which the value has decreased," he said.
But, he believes city officials are helping to better those areas.
"We have taken a concerted effort to focus on downtown revitalization efforts because we believe that the fabric or our older neighborhoods is an important part of Goldsboro's history. ... They speak to our past and are a vibrant link to our future," he said.
Revitalizing these neighborhoods will be a key step in inviting visitors to the area, and once the community takes pride in their city and lends a hands to others, the acts will be contagious, he added.
With the help of Habitat for Humanity, Preservation North Carolina and Self-Help, historic homes were bettered, and new, affordable homes were built.
And as that neighborhood revitalization continues, King said it creates a market for small businesses downtown as well as retail development expansion elsewhere in the city.
He also touched on how city officials and citizens worked together to bring projects, like the rebuilding of the Para-mount Theatre and the revitalization of the historic City Hall, back to life as well as preparing for ones to come, such as the Community Recreation Center.
"The city has not accomplished these things alone. But we have done so by creating an environment of collaboration with our citizenry, faith and business communities. ... we also lost the Paramount The-atre and Community Building to fire. The loss of these two facilities was felt not just in Goldsboro but throughout the county," he said.
Support for the facilities made the investment and the rebuilding of the theater possible, but King said there was some opposition.
"We pressed on with the Paramount with the assistance of the Paramount Theatre Foundation. Those that wanted the facility opened their hearts and also provided financial support," he said.
And, city officials hope to bring part of the Community Building back to life in the proposed Community Recreation Center that is expected to begin construction late this summer, a center that will promote physical fitness in the city.
"As the Health Assessment for Wayne County pointed out, with our current obesity rates, reform and improvement are now the order of the day. The city wants to do its part," he added, saying that sidewalks have been added around the city and bike path construction is under way to encourage citizens to walk and bike outside.
King also spoke about preparing the city's youths for tomorrow, and one of the ways they hope to do that is with the Fine Arts Academy that is in the process of organizing now.
The restoration of Union Station -- that could provide passenger rail service in six to 10 years from Wilmington to Raleigh through Goldsboro -- highways, paving, the city's water system, compost facility, new zoning code and technological advances given to the Inspections, Fire and Police departments were also mentioned in the mayor's speech as he said all city departments are working toward a better community for tomorrow.
"There is so much to be proud of," King said. "The gains in this period of time are part of the foundation for Goldsboro to continue as a place of hope, creativity and inspired civic service."
And as he closed his speech, he thanked those in the community for their cooperation and friendship.
"Not that we always agree on every issue or topic, but often after conversation, we find our interests are the same," he said. "Our interest is to protect what we have and build for the future. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the state of the city. This is what you have helped to create."
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