Streetscape: Pro or con?
By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on February 27, 2012 1:46 PM
I am in favor of our city going forward with the Streetscape project. We are all concerned about incurring debt given the economic climate, but the positive goal of improving downtown, making it a more desirable place to shop, dine and visit makes this a worthwhile investment. The down side risk is slight compared to the potential (and likely) high payoff.
Very few things are in granite but without doubt real leadership and even more -- vision -- among any group of people is necessary for a bright future. The big issues -- brain drain, juvenile delinquency, downtown blight, lack of good job potential and economic development in our zip code -- may not be solved but they can be positively impacted by an investment in our downtown area.
A great example of investing in downtown is the new Veterans Memorial Park across from the courthouse, which is proving to be a huge winner. It recognizes the valor and sacrifice of our armed forces, it provides a history and civics lesson for every citizen who passes, and it is a welcome and beautiful open space park for all to enjoy. It would not have happened without the dedication, hard work and vision of a group of our citizens.
Investments in downtown are not wasted but are a financial and moral necessity for all of Wayne County. Hardly any course is perfect but I salute all those working to improve the quality and desirability of our downtown.
While the architectural plan of Streetscape is really well thought out and would turn downtown into a really pretty place it fails in two regards. One is the fact that according to a recent conversation that I had with City Planner Randy Guthrie, owners of many downtown buildings cannot afford the cost of upgrading their buildings to bring them up to code as required for occupancy. If the building can't be occupied how is that going to bring new business into the downtown? Where are these new businesses going to be located? Would the building owners suddenly come up with money to upgrade their property? The other problem in going through with the Streetscape plan is that the city has less than half of the money required for the first phase of the project. The majority will have to be borrowed. And, if just the first phase of the project, which by the way, is the best looking section of downtown already, is going to be $2.1 million, just how much will the rest of the project cost us?
On Feb. 20, the City Council voted to apply for a grant to complete the Streetscape project and the Union Station project, which in itself sounds good. But we as taxpayers have to come up with funds to match 20 percent of the grant applied for or $2.6 million. And on top of that, Chuck Allen wants to add a GATEWAY project to the grant in the tune of another half million, thereby increasing the funds the taxpayers would be indebted for.
There is an old saying, "It's a good thing your wants can't hurt you," but that certainly isn't true; because the City Council's wants are certainly going to hurt the taxpayers of the city of Goldsboro.
NANCY HARPER SATTERFIELD
I would like to say that I am in full support of the Streetscape project 100 percent. It has been proven over and over that if you spend money on projects like this, that in turn you will make money. In this case, I feel that we will see a net of more businesses and more jobs. It is just like when we need to do renovations at our homes. Everything needs updating at some point. We hate to spend the money to do it, but we love the results. A lot of people were very skeptical about the new City Hall being built and the old one being renovated. There were some people that even wanted the old one torn down. Thank goodness the City Council proceeded with those two projects and look what a difference they make to our downtown. The Paramount Theatre is another example of what was done.
I really don't think that many people are against the Streetscape as much as they are to cutting down the unsightly holly trees. They are pretty at Christmas, but that is the only time. Some are starting to die now if you look closely at them. Looking at the Streetscape plan, for the block of 200 N. Center, the block where City Hall is located, there will be five trees on each side of the street and eight trees down the middle. That will be almost doubling the number of trees that are there now. Think how pretty that will be.
Please think about our young adults who live here now and our future generations and what they can enjoy from a REVITALIZED downtown. There have been a lot of strides made downtown, so let's all pull together and support this project and continue to make Goldsboro one of the best towns in eastern North Carolina.
It seems like the City Council is dying to spend some money. There has been one huge project after the other brought up. Are they not hearing the people in Goldsboro? Do we have the money on hand or is this going to be something we taxpayers end up paying for?
I am not for this expenditure. If the city wants to spend money so badly, how about resurfacing some of our city streets or redoing our emergency call system. I am sure there are numerous other projects that need to be done which aren't so expensive.
I have heard that there would be parallel parking if the Streetscape took place. That would discourage me from going downtown. I wish our city council would use some common sense about this huge expenditure.
How can our city councilmen favorably consider spending multi-millions of taxpayer dollars on four downtown blocks of a "Streetscape Project" and additionally a renovation of the downtown "Union Station?" What? Absolutely absurd! No, we don't alter, modify or improve the streetfronts of privately owned downtown buildings with millions of our taxpayer dollars. How can that thought possibly receive any consideration in a "specially called meeting?" Are they all in a Washington D.C. trance?
We can't afford for them to continue spending money we do not have after current spending on numerous active projects, like the multi-million dollar "911 Call Center," buying the "Air Force Museum" building and others. Stop these unjustified, unworthy projects now! They are charged with the ultimate responsibility of appropriately spending each taxpayer dollar on worthy projects we can support. We city citizens should also have input in the selection of projects they wish to approve. We citizens would also like to know which contractors would be receiving their share of these millions. Certainly no one would push a project in the direction of a friend that just happens to be a contractor in the streetfront renovation business.
We've come a long way, to closed door meetings, private meetings and special meetings where these "let's do it" decisions are voted on and approved after having already been voted on and disapproved. What's connected to this flip-flopping and change of heart? Something smells! How can we stand by doing nothing while these such shenanigans go on by our councilmen. We've gotten into this out of control spending binge because of these private secret meetings. We've got to return to every city council meeting being out in the open for everyone in this city to know of and understand where they want to spend our money.
If they can't stand the public scrutiny, then they should resign and find a town with the secret meetings they like and can no longer have here in our Goldsboro!
It is obvious that our mayor, Mr. King, and city councilmen, Mr. Allen and Mr. Williams, have no concern for the cost of the Streetscape Plan and the financial hardships this project will have on the citizens of Goldsboro. It is evident that Mr. King and Mr. Allen have a hidden agenda and are determined to get their way in passing this project, regardless of the cost and regardless of how many citizens oppose it. It appears that Mr. Williams is easily influenced by these two and seems to go along with whatever they suggest.
I truly believe that these three men are convinced that they have an endless supply of money and all they have to do is increase our taxes. They have become more self-centered, concentrating on their own ego and desires, and have forgotten that they were elected by the citizens to carry out the wishes of the majority. They have taken their eyes off the job they were elected to do.
If these three men are truly interested in improving Goldsboro, the best thing that they could possibly do is submit their letters of resignation immediately.