12/18/12 — Council OKs next step of Streetscape

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Council OKs next step of Streetscape

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on December 18, 2012 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro City Council on Monday night gave the go-ahead to staff to proceed with the next step of the Center Street Streetscape project although the decision doesn't mean the project will go forward.

The council's action only means the city will seek bids for the next phase. Only after bids are accepted and one approved, will council members decide whether more blocks of Center Street will be rebuilt.

The first block of the overall project has been completed. The next phase would renovate two blocks of Center Street between Mulberry and Chestnut streets.

District 6 Councilman Gene Aycock noted during the council work session that the decision to issue a request for proposals for design work isn't binding.

"It doesn't cost us anything," he said.

The request for proposals only invites design firms to propose their plans for the project. Once the bidding process is complete, the council then votes on whether to accept the lowest bid, to rebid or to pass on the proposals altogether.

While the council had very little discussion about moving forward with the Center Street renovations, it was the main topic during the public comment period of the council's meeting.

There were 10 speakers who addressed the council, all of whom spoke about Streetscape. While seven asked that the project move forward, three, including Mary Rowe, were vehemently against it.

"I want to know who you're trying to please," Ms. Rowe said. "Think of the taxpayers and not your own agenda."

Although District 2 Councilman Bill Broadaway wasn't present, Mrs. Rowe insisted that the Center Street business owners he has said support the project aren't city residents.

Downtown advocate Martha Bryan directly addressed District 3 Councilman William Goodman, who has emerged as the project's most vocal opponent, by reminding him that the downtown area is in his district.

Goodman has asked that investment downtown be directed into the city's poorest districts, his and District 1, in previous meetings.

Antonio Williams, who runs The Ice Storm downtown, also addressed that concern, albeit indirectly. He pointed out that investment downtown would result in jobs.

Ernie Mansour, a member of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. and a downtown property owner, spoke of the city's infrastructure needs downtown, referring to poor water quality and pressure along Center Street, even suggesting that the water problems could be the reason why the Wayne County Memorial Community Building and Paramount Theatre burned.

Fire safety was a topic again when Terry Cottle, another downtown property owner, noted that the city was requiring one of his tenants to install a sprinkler system in his building when the city's water pressure isn't adequate to support such a system.

Glenn Smith, an accountant downtown, said he was initially opposed to the project, but now is willing to endure any hardship to his business to see that it is completed.

Alex Economy said he never visits downtown and was shocked to see the amount of parking that had been taken away due to the first phase of the project. He also questioned the planting of oak trees in the medians, pointing out that as their roots mature they will destroy the pavement.

The trees planted in the new block are a mixture of zelkovas and timber oaks.

Wayne County Republican Party Chairman Bob Jackson was concerned about the potential for tax bills to increase thanks to the Streetscape project and the city's proposed Air Force museum. He also questioned the health of the city's fund balances, which were found to be lacking during last year's audit, although the city was considered to be in good financial standing regardless.

Larry Hill, another downtown property owner, pointed to successes in other cities who invested into their downtowns, saying Goldsboro's Streetscape project was a good idea.

"I've seen the end of this movie," he said. "It has a happy ending."