02/18/11 — Center Street's remake gets approval from City Council

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Center Street's remake gets approval from City Council

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on February 18, 2011 1:46 PM

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A car travels down Center Street early this morning. During the final day of their annual retreat, members of the Goldsboro City Council approved putting out for bid a project that will transform the 200 block of North Center Street. Construction is expected to begin this summer.

Members of the Goldsboro City Council committed to a revamped Center Street Thursday morning during the final day of their annual retreat -- a block of it, anyway.

The board voted to allow staff to put the first phase of the streetscape redesign project out for bid -- an effort downtown officials said would draw new businesses and bring new life to the city's core.

But Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen said the project, estimated to cost as much as $1 million, could not be paid for via an allocation from the General Fund -- street bond money is expected to be used to fund the majority of work that will see wider sidewalks, a "walkable median," underground utilities and more open, green space constructed.

"If we're going to move forward with it, we don't take any money from the General Fund," Allen said.

Planning Director Randy Guthrie said his staff is prepared to comply with the stipulation and added that he expects bids to go out by the end of March and construction to begin shortly after the beginning of June.

But while plans exist for the length of Center Street, there is currently "no identified funding source ... for future blocks."

Other issues discussed during Day Two of the retreat included:

* Public Utilities Director Karen Brashear told council members that the federal government will soon lower the recommended amount of fluoride injected into the water supply. The board then voted to lower the fluoride level from 1 mg per liter to .7 mg per liter, a move Mrs. Brashear could be set in motion immediately.

* Soon-to-be-retired Police Chief Tim Bell said his staff successfully created enough evidence storage space to last between three and four years, but urged the board to take seriously the concept of future expansion of the Police Department headquarters. "There's going to be a need to do something," he said. "There's going to come a day."

* Bell told council members that the department's fleet was aging and reported that 24 police cars are at least 10 years old -- most have recorded more than 100,000 miles. The average cost to maintain each of the older cars, he added, was nearly $4,000 per year. "That's just to keep them rolling," he said.

* Travel and Tourism Director Betsy Rosemann said she will turn her focus, after April's Wings Over Wayne air show, to sports marketing, as hosting more sporting events in the city and county brings with it the potential of millions of dollars in revenue.