04/06/10 — Butterfield takes Goldsboro tour

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Butterfield takes Goldsboro tour

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 6, 2010 2:00 PM

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Craig Newton, left, an engineer with the rail division of NCDOT, listens as Mayor Al King, center, and U.S. Rep. G.K. Butter-field discuss the renovation of Union Station Monday.

First District Congressman G.K. Butterfield didn't mince words when he met with the Goldsboro City Council Monday to talk about local projects and needs. The financial picture in Washington is not promising, he said at the outset.

But despite the less than rosy outlook, Butterfield said he was impressed by the city's improvement efforts and that he would work to obtain money for some of the projects, especially Union Station.

He was less sanguine about the chances of getting money to help with other city projects such as a proposed recreation center and work on Center Street.

Butterfield's visit was a follow-up to one city leaders made to his office last month.

Julie Thompson, director of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp., first gave a presentation on the three projects. That was followed by tour of the downtown area, including a stop at Union Station, where engineer Craig Newton of the state Department of Transportation, explained plans to Butterfield.

"There is a lot of heritage in Goldsboro that must be preserved," Butterfield said afterward. "There is a lot of potential in this community that must be recognized. The city of Goldsboro acting alone does not have the resources to develop the infrastructure that is needed in the city.

"There must be partnerships -- partnership with the federal government, partnership with state government and partnership with the private sector. The day is long gone now where the government can do it all. The buzz word now is partnership."

Butterfield said that "without question" the city is on the right track.

"The train station project is a perfect example of what can be done when the public and private sectors work together," he said.

The first thing that comes to mind when funding is involved is that municipalities want congressmen to secure earmarks, he said. Butterfield said he is willing to do that. However, it must be recognized that there are limits on the amount that can be appropriated using the earmark process, he said.

"What I have encouraged municipalities to do is look at the broader picture and to look at agency funding," he said. "For example, the Department of Transportation has some discretionary funding for transportation projects and this (Union Station) should qualify.

"This is just not a quickly assembled project here in Goldsboro. There has been a lot of thought and lot of planning put into it, a lot of local investment. This is the type of project that I think the Department of Transportation would like to see," Butterfield said.

The congressman added that there likely would not be as much money available for the community center. However, he said he was impressed with the vision of city leaders in regard to the recreation center.

"The proposal is to place this center where it is needed that is in a low-income community where a third of the residents are between the ages of 5 and 17," he said. "That is a wonderful concept and I will do anything and everything in my power to help make it a reality.

"But funding, I would expect, would not be as plentiful for a recreation center as it would for a transportation project, not at the federal level."

Mayor Al King said he appreciated Butterfield's quick response to the city's visit.

"The fact that he took the time to come here, he listened then," King said. "He understood what we were trying to do and we said he was going to come and talk to us and he did. He brought his chief staff and they are very much involved. They know.

"It's not just enough to get the elected official on your team, but you also need to get his advisors who really know the details about the funding and how it comes about and the best way to get it. I feel very good. We know this and we told him, we know money is hard to come by, but I do feel confident if there is money available he will help us, he will do all he can to help us."