02/11/10 — Council reviews wish lists for 2010

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Council reviews wish lists for 2010

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on February 11, 2010 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro City Council met with key members of the city management team and staff Wednesday, as the board's annual retreat kicked off inside City Hall.

The purpose of the first session -- the retreat will continue through late Friday morning -- was to give each department head an opportunity to discuss their projected needs for the next decade.

And while no formal decisions were made, a list was started by City Manager Joe Huffman, one that by the end of the day had several items listed as priorities for future years.

Perhaps the most notable presentations came from Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. executive director Julie Thompson, Goldsboro police Chief Tim Bell and Fire Chief Gary Whaley, as all spoke about potential changes to the makeup of the city's core.

Mrs. Thompson examined the cost associated with several projects, and painted a picture of the future that included everything from a completed Union Station -- the city will be responsible for footing $1 million of the bill by the end of 2011-12 -- to downtown streetscape and entryway improvements that will cost several million more by 2020.

But it was Whaley's presentation that seemed to mix things up the most.

The chief's report included his vision for a new location for the Fire Department headquarters, a move he said would benefit both firefighters and city police officers alike.

The plan, if it were to come to fruition, would see the old CP&L building along Center Street renovated in 2012 to allow the Fire Department to move its operations across the street from its current location.

The following year, a new headquarters -- projected to cost $3 million -- would be constructed on the CP&L site.

The move, Whaley said, would not only serve his department well, but would also allow for an expansion of the Police Department, something Bell later characterized as a relatively pressing need.

Bell said one advantage of expanding into the Fire Department's current home has to do, simply, with space.

At current, the PD's evidence room is close to capacity, an issue he said will have to be dealt with soon.

"Right now, I'm putting a Band-Aid on the problem," he said, before discussing some of the ways his officers are making room for evidence currently being collected.

But should Whaley's plan come together, Bell said he could turn one of the existing bays at the firehouse into a state-of-the-art evidence room.

The council seemed to back the Police Depart-ment's needs, as by the end of Wednesday's session, the need for additional evidence storage had made the board's list of priorities.

And several other items joined it.

Whaley's request for construction of a fire training tower and burn building for city firefighters -- projected to cost around $650,000 -- was one of them.

And so was looking into a fix for drainage problems on holes No. 1, No. 10 and No. 18 at the city golf course.

The council even determined that an in-depth look at the viability of existing parks and pools across the city should be taken.

And although no votes were had, it seemed clear that those council members who were present for the duration -- District 1 representative Michael Headen showed up late and left several hours before the session was closed -- found the meeting quite productive.

For more detailed coverage of the retreat, follow the News-Argus and on NewsArgus.com