09/03/14 — Oak Forest residents against city's proposed plans for soccer fields

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Oak Forest residents against city's proposed plans for soccer fields

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on September 3, 2014 1:47 PM

A number of Goldsboro residents descended on the City Council chambers Tuesday night to protest the building of new soccer fields in the Oak Forest community.

The new fields would be built off South Oak Forest Road on the east side of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. The Air Force has agreed to lease the location for the construction of the fields.

Two members of the community, Linda Cook and Larry Hoch, spoke during the public comment period to air their concerns to the council.

"I feel like my community already has a lot of things that affect us because of our proximity to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base," Ms. Cook said. "There's noise, traffic, crime, trailer parks. But the difference with these soccer fields is that it's right in our front yards."

Ms. Cook said she has personally driven around Goldsboro to look for other locations where the fields could be built, and claimed to have found several. She also said the soccer fields will depreciate the value of homes in the community.

"I don't want to put up with noise," said Larry Hoch, 67, another member of the Oak Forest community. "I've looked at the plan, and it says it's going to take over 10 years to pay for this thing."

He was also worried about traffic.

"If you punch in Oak Forest Road on your GPS and you're coming in from out of town, it isn't going to take you through the city," Hoch said. "It's going to take you down (Highway) 70 and straight down our little two-lane road. That road is not built to handle that kind of traffic."

Hoch closed his comments by suggesting the council seek out another location or reduce the number of fields in the plan, which currently calls for eight.

During the work session held before the council meeting, Councilman Michael Headon opposed an item on the agenda that called for the conversion of three office spaces into three apartment units on the south side of West Ash Street between James and George streets. Headon said illegal business activities plague his district, and he foresaw potential problems with the change.

But when the council voted on the consent agenda, no one cast a ballot against the conversion.

In other business, Goldsboro High School might also be getting some college football action on its field next year.

LaTerrie Ward of the Community Affairs Department received permission from the council to contact the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association to see if any teams in the conference would play a regular season game in the GHS stadium.

The tentative date she proposed was Labor Day weekend at 2 p.m., with the specific day to be determined. It would be funded primarily by sponsorships from various businesses. Community Affairs has $17,500 in its budget to put toward the event, she said.

There would be a battle of the bands after the game, and an old school dance as well, Ms. Ward said.

"I would think this will generate more money for the city than we would spend, and we would recoup the money spent as the game comes closer to time," City Manager Scott Stevens said. "We don't need a motion on this. We just need everybody to shake their heads yes."

And as the council members nodded in approval, a different subject was raised -- the city has been without a safety coordinator for the Safety Compliance Program since January 2012.

Faye Reeves with Human Resources appealed to the council for the reinstatement of the position Tuesday night. Ms. Reeves said the senior human resources analyst has been fulfilling the safety coordinator's duties for the past few years, but that it needs to be a full-time position.

"We are really sticking our necks out if we don't have that filled," Mayor Pro-Tem Bill Broadaway said.

The council approved the decision to move forward with filling the position in the near future.

"It is essential to fill it," Mayor Al King said. "It's going to cost us a lot of money in the long run if we don't fill it."