01/08/12 — City, next: City leaders give their opinions on some of the issues that are facing Goldsboro in 2012 ... and beyond.

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City, next: City leaders give their opinions on some of the issues that are facing Goldsboro in 2012 ... and beyond.

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on January 8, 2012 1:50 AM

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Allison Carter

One of the city's priorities is downtown, specifically the Center Street Streetscape project.

SUNDAY, PART I: Goldsboro High, downtown and annexation

MONDAY, PART II: 2012's top issues and City Manager Scott Stevens' view

QUESTION 1: Goldsboro High School's future

Mayor Al King: One of the things that comes to mind is to do whatever it took to make sure there was a more equal distribution of the racial makeup of Goldsboro High School. That's something that should be done. I don't know what it would take, but whatever it took, I would not allow any school system to have a 95 percent racial makeup.

District 1 Councilman Michael Headen: In terms of leadership we should do whatever we can do to improve the situation and improve the image of Goldsboro High School -- a better graduation rate -- and making it more community friendly.

District 2 Councilman Bob Waller: I think it should probably go to a special, magnet-type school that focuses on either science or math or arts or a combination. Something similar to the (Wayne) School of Engineering. I think it needs some type of special program there that would help people want to live in the city and attend the school.

District 3 Councilman Don

Chatman: That's really hard to answer because on one hand you hear a lot of negative things, but then there are positive things that are going on there, too. It's a question of which outweighs the other. I really don't know how to answer that question, because you would have to assume the city has jurisdiction and can make change. I'm on the outside looking in, not knowing if there are problems.

District 4    Councilman The Rev. Charles Williams: I would say that something ought to be done to change the trend of going backwards to the era of segregation. I would think that the student ratio is predominantly black and I don't think that's good. I think it would be better if it was more balanced according to the black-white ratio of the county or the city. Also students living in a certain district can go to school in another district -- I think if you live in a district, you should go to school in that district. That would be better than leaving your district and going to another district.

Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen: I think that the administration has made strides at Goldsboro High School. Their engineering school has 400 students and is all racially balanced and apparently doing really well. The graduation coach change is good and they're on the right track. The only thing I know that I would offer to do different, and I'm not saying they're not doing this, but I would want to be sure they have the best teachers they have there to bring the school up. They've taken positive steps in the last couple of years, but the more community involvement we can have the better it's going to be. It can't just be school, it can't just be the administration, the community needs to rally behind the community schools. It's just a matter of where these kids come from -- they need that extra support. We all need to work together as a community to pull every resource we can. You can't blame it all on the school.

District 6 Councilman Jackie Warrick: The school is controlled by the Board of Education. The school system runs the school and the Board of Education does policies. Do I think we should help Goldsboro High School? We should do everything we can for Goldsboro High School, but we're limited by the way the system is set up.

QUESTION 2: Where do you want to see money spent downtown, or do you want money spent downtown at all?

King: The Streetscape is extremely important. That is going to be the foundation that is going to move the city. I know it's expensive and it's going to take a while, but I really feel that's the foundation this downtown needs to build on.

Headen: I want to be cognitive of our infrastructure. Repaving streets is important, but I want to see improvement downtown. DGDC (Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp.) is doing a good job.

Waller: Sure I want to see (money) spent downtown. We have the money available and we can do it. We can clean up around downtown and  what's there currently -- we can improve the facades of what's already there. The buildings that need to be gone, we need to clean them up. I think the entryways need to be addressed. Let's start somewhere and gradually get them and enforce the codes we already have.

Chatman: Well, the Streetscape would be the dominant thing right now, and I guess, yeah, we always need to support our downtown. We should do either the first block or entire block as long as we can afford it. I would love to see the entire project done, but, again, if we do it we'll have to do it if it's affordable for the city.

Williams: We've been talking about downtown revitalization for years. Downtown is the heart of the city. The businesses, all of them are running to the outer edges of the city, but Goldsboro is the county seat. You have to come down there to pay your taxes and you come down there and you see it falling apart -- that doesn't seem right -- to allow it to just go down and the appearance of it. I think the whole Center Street (Streetscape project) should be done. If we do the first block, we should do whatever we can to do the next one and the next one. It ties in. And the one that connects the train station -- Walnut Street. All of that in the future, once it's done, businesses will start coming downtown. It would help travel and tourism.

Allen: If you look at the downtown tax base, the tax base hasn't grown in 10 or 15 years. I'm smart enough to know that there's not going to be a big box store to come downtown, so we have to take what we have and create an environment conducive to businesses coming downtown. We need to make people clean it up and take down dilapidated houses and restore a sense of pride. Give it a loved look -- that's what I call it. I think what we have to do is create a better and more inviting environment for downtown. What you're after is specialty shops, residential and restaurants. Like anything it's always going to be a struggle but I do think there are things we can do to make it better.

Warrick: I voted against (the Center Street Streetscape project) twice. The city itself so far in the downtown area has built a new city hall, renovated the annex and historic city hall -- which was needed by the way -- extended the parking lot on Center Street, done the Paramount and done some repaving around the streets. The taxpayers are already in debt down there. There are other parts of Goldsboro that need help besides downtown.

QUESTION 3: How do cities grow without annexation?

King: Growing in area is going to be very difficult. It will have to be voluntarily. But as far as population within the city limits -- I feel that's going to happen down the road anyway. One of the reasons why the population of Goldsboro went down was people wanted to move out to the suburbs to get bigger houses and more land to enjoy, but the demographics are changing and that is reversing itself. In the years to come, there will be more people moving back to town and living in apartments. It's going to take a while, but that will come as the lifestyle of people change. I know somewhere down the road, more people will be occupying homes in which the occupant is alone -- there will be more single residents occupying dwellings than others. People are getting tired of cutting grass and are moving to apartments. Otherwise, it would have to be voluntary (annexation) and we would have to do things that would make people want to live in the city. What that takes, I don't know, but it's something we'll have to look at.

Headen: It's a tough thing to argue. To grow, you have to bring people to the table. It requires informing them on the (annexation) process and you have to hear both sides. You have to have a willingness to listen to the individuals in the area.

Waller: That's going to be difficult. We'll have to find people that want to be inside the city or need the city water or city sewer. That's the only way. The Legislature has kind of put a stop to the growth of cities, and I don't understand it. People will have to want to use them or have them (city amenities). It's not fair for the city to provide things and have (those who use them not) pay for their share of the use of them.

Chatman: As far as housing units, I guess by concentrating on vacant lots and working on doing infield development on vacant properties. There are times when we are still petitioned to be annexed. Petitions and infields would be the only way we're going to grow.

Williams: I don't believe they can, really. I think the Legislature is making a big mistake by upholding deannexation because you're finding a lot of the taxpayers' money is just being misused because we paid something like $2 million into that area (Phase 11). If it's deannexed, all of that money goes down the drain. Some of those who live outside the (city) limits say "I don't want to pay two taxes." I pay two taxes. I think it's ridiculous that I'm having to pay the city and the county which is about $400 a year. I don't like it, but I don't have any choice. I pay two taxes -- county and city. If it's right for me to pay two taxes, why is it wrong for someone else to pay two taxes? We have to keep the city growing and people outside are using the same roads and bridges as the people in the city.

Allen: They don't. Period. How do you grow if you take annexation out of the equation? All any city our size can do is to try to make people want to move in. I think the most important thing we can do is be sure we do everything we can to maintain and to stabilize our relationship with Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. The base is the driving force to everything we do, so we should do everything we can to protect the base. The next driving factor is to improve the inner city schools. I'm not saying they're bad, but that's what everybody is looking at. We need to be sure we're doing everything we can to make sure the school system is the best we can be. As a city we need to make sure that our city is clean and that's all that we can do.

Warrick: I don't see us growing at all except for voluntary annexation. I see problems ahead not just for us, but for all municipalities as far as growing. Anybody who sits down and looks at it can see that.