07/08/08 — Mount Olive will seek funds for town projects

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Mount Olive will seek funds for town projects

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 8, 2008 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- All it takes is 15 minutes or less of hard rain before David Armstrong sees the water rising in his Franklin Street yard.

He is so concerned about the poor drainage in the Franklin Street area that he has purchased flood insurance.

Monday night he asked the town board here to consider drainage work in his south Mount Olive community as it looks for new Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) projects.

"We are getting close to being a disaster area down there," Armstrong said.

Armstrong told commissioners that he and other members of the District I Neighborhood Watch were interested in what they could do to provide input about the chronic problem.

Earlier in the meeting, commissioners had closed out the town's 2006 CDBG project in which 18 homes were hooked up to the town's sewer system.

David Cox of R.M. Harris Associates, the town's engineering firm, updated the board on the 2006 project. He also told commissioners that the "window" was open for the new grant-funding cycle.

Cox said that the $75,000 2006 grant had enabled the town to connect the 18 houses to the sewer system.

He said that in each case the town's sewer lines ran in front of the houses, but that the houses had not been tied into the system.

No one spoke during the public hearing closing out that project.

Armstrong was the only resident who spoke during a public hearing to gauge the board's interest in pursing CDBG funding for 2008.

He wanted to know how residents could provide feedback to the board.

Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. suggested including a flier or a notice with water bills once a geographic area is identified. He said the town also would accept comments from the public, like the ones made by Armstrong.

"We will put them on list and when we get the consultant's engineer in here to go down and look at it and see what the feasibility of doing that, what kind of money we are talking at," McDonald said. "Then if it is a good project, the board can apply for it."

Cox said his company passed out fliers door to door when it is working in a community.

Question-and-answer sessions about what is going to happen "when and how" are also held, he said.

Cox told Armstrong he had made notes about Franklin Street.

He also told commissioners there would be a variety of projects for which the town could apply.

Commissioner Kenny Talton asked Cox if the town had to apply for just one project or as many as it wanted.

"You can apply for them all," Cox said. "But they like finite projects. There is a limited pool of money."

Town Manager Charles Brown said that the amount of money available depends on the kind of project it is. Grants can range from $100,000 to $200,000, he said.

McDonald asked Cox if the town could use CDBG funds to purchase computer readout meters to replace old water meters.

"We have been in the process of replacing so many a year, but it is going to take 20 years and by the time we get them all in it will be old technology," he said.

"I don't know until we look," Cox said.

Cox said he had not heard of that being done, but that it was possible it could be considered part of an infrastructure project.

"They may look at the meters as more beneficial to the town than citizens," Brown said.

A second public hearing will be required should the town decide to apply for a grant. The second hearing will not be needed if the town decides not to proceed with a project.

In other business:

* Commissioners tabled a request to erect "No Parking" signs on the north side of East Williamson Street.

Notices about the proposal were sent to residents in the area. In addition, the town received comments from residents who do not want the signs, McDonald said.

Commissioner Hosea Manley said he had spoken with some residents who suggested a petition drive to determine residents' reactions.

McDonald agreed.

"It bothers me that they don't want anybody to know they are opposed to it," he said. "They want you to get up and be opposed to it for them."

Commissioner Gene Lee's motion to table the issue was seconded by Manley and unanimously approved.

In response to McDonald, Lee said he had no problem with his motion including the petition since he had planned to look into the issue himself.

* Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing the purchase of two new cars for the police department.

The two vehicles will be purchased through a purchase-lease agreement over a three-year period.

The budget commissioners approved last month included $32,000.

"It makes the bank more comfortable and me more comfortable if we have a resolution authorizing the purchase," Brown said.

The town is purchasing two 2008 Chevrolet Impalas through Southern Bank and Trust Co. to replace two "less-gas efficient" vehicles in the department, Brown said.

"I think we calculated we will be doubling our gas efficiency in those two cars," Brown said.