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Bladenboro Town Council Meeting – 07/13/2015

By: Bo Alambis

Bladenboro town commissioners had a busy appointment at the most recent town council meeting. After Mayor Rufus Duckworth called the meeting to order, Commissioner Terry Nance led his fellow council members and residents in prayer, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Mayor Duckworth opened the floor, which allowed Bladenboro resident Charles Benton the opportunity to express his concerns regarding the detours that have been placed around town. Mr. Benton explained that the detours are causing increased traffic on and around 5th street; putting the street at an increased risk for potholes and other damages. The streets, he explained, were not designed to hold the weight of some of the bigger vehicles that are traveling on them. As a solution, the town council members discussed introducing additional barricades.

After the floor was closed, members from the North Carolina Department of Transportation planning branch explained various aspects of the NCDOT planning process, namely the comprehensive transportation plan. The comprehensive transportation plan, or CTP for short, discusses and details the transportation needs faced by Bladenboro residents; the plan includes several layouts, used to plan sidewalks, bike paths, and other transportation methods. NCDOT traffic engineer, Phil Geary, explained that the plan will be reassessed every 5 years to ensure that the town’ needs are being met, and made it clear that “…nothing is set in stone.” The CTP is a 20 to 30 year plan.

The second discussion point concerned the possible combining of the Joint Housing Boards for Elizabethtown, Bladenboro, Clarkton, and Dublin. The move would keep the subsidies unchanged; however, it would require all grant monies to be combined and distributed to the towns on a board-recommended basis.The current plan would allow Elizabethtown, Bladenboro, and Clarkton equal representation (each town having 3 board members) however, in regards to housing units, housing representative Stevie Craig explained that the town of Bladenboro and the town of Clarkton each have 52 units. This is significantly more than the town’ of Elizabethtown, which has 26 units, and Dublin, which has 24 units.

This led Commissioner Terry Nance to suggest that the plan be changed to appoint board members based on the number of units a town has, suggesting a ratio of 3 board members for Bladenboro and Clarkton, 2 for Elizabethtown, and 1 for Dublin. The town council plans to discuss the issue further at the next town meeting.

The final concern brought forth by the town council involved the McLean Park property, which was donated to the town several years ago. The property’s stipulations state that it is to be used for recreational purposes only; however, it was recently discovered by town administrator Melanie Hester that the property has been being leased for farming purposes. The current leaseholder has been given permission to harvest their crop, but after September, the property will no longer be used for farming.

Before closing, Commissioner Billy Benson suggested that the town submit changes to the NCDOT comprehensive transportation plan; specifically to extend the town’s sidewalks from the bridge in front of C.W.’s garage to Bo’s Food Store. Commissioner Jeff Atkinson agreed, suggesting that the sidewalks also be extended to Food Plus.

The meeting adjourned, with Commissioner’s Everett Butler and Sarah Benson thanking everyone for attending, and encouraging everyone to bring with them a friend or another resident to participate in the next town council meeting; every commissioner agreeing that feedback from the community is crucial to the success of the town meetings.

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