10/14/11 — Leaders weigh area's future

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Leaders weigh area's future

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on October 14, 2011 1:46 PM

About 60 citizens sat in Wayne Community College's Moffatt Auditorium early Thursday morning as community leaders spoke of the present and future of the city of Goldsboro, Wayne County and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

The important and valued relationship between the Air Force base and the city and county around it was a major theme of the panelists' remarks, as City Manager Scott Stevens and County Manager Lee Smith both noted how the increase in housing families from the base in recent years had helped stave off the worst of the economic troubles.

The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce promoted the event, which began with Col. Patrick Doherty, the 4th Fighter Wing commander, speaking of the base's appreciation for the city and county it calls home.

"We always consider ourselves a teammate," he said of the base's relationship with the municipalities following the event. "It's just an honor to be a part of the community. Our folks love the community, and we're working hard. The future here is bright."

Stevens spoke directly about the base during his address, saying it was what had spared Goldsboro when the economy turned sour, although he admitted there had been significant cuts in the city's expenses. He said the goal was for citizens to not notice a change in their services despite the leaner budget.

Smith said the meager times were the perfect opportunity to make plans for the future.

"When resources are scarce, you get more creative." he said.

Still, he noted that the county had improved its bond rating and, because of planning in the past, was moving forward on projects including the new Services on Aging building and renovations to schools.

Stevens also spoke to projects in the city's forecast, including the Center Street Streetscape project the city is attempting to fund.

Stevens' presentation contained some of the same slides and information as the Streetscape presentation Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. Director Julie Thompson gave during Monday's reconvened Goldsboro City Council meeting as he showed how investment in other downtown areas had reaped benefits for business owners and citizens alike.

He also addressed the plans for Union Station, saying that, despite the council's decision not to include the train station renovations in a grant application, the concept was far from dead.

He also said there would be significant research in the next six months into the possibility of converting the city's newly acquired building at 2406 E. Ash St. into an Air Force Museum, saying in half a year the council would know how viable the idea was and what the next step might be.