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Questions answered over Villas project

MURFREESBORO — After several weeks of asking questions, it seems town officials here are satisfied with the answers provided during a Tuesday morning meeting.

During the meeting, Murfreesboro town officials sat down with representatives from the Quality of Life Association (QUOLA) and the North Carolina Initiative in order to discuss the status of the Howard Hunter Villas project.

Convened upon the request of Mayor Lynn Johnson, the meeting included Councilman Billy Theodorakis, Town Administrator Cathy Davison, Public Works Director Gene Byrd and Mike Barnette of Mc David & Associates.

QUOLA representatives Joyce Peoples and Julie Everret as well as Abdul Rasheed, Tara Kenchen and Mark Abrams of the North Carolina Initiative also attended the meeting.

In a press release provided to the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald (and read by Town Attorney Buddy Jones at the Town Council meeting held later in the day), the meeting was described as “very productive.”

“All questions previously raised concerning the project were discussed and addressed to the satisfaction of all parties concerned,” the release stated. “It was agreed that a memorandum of understanding identifying the responsibilities of the parties for the completion of the project would be outlined.”

The meeting follows an earlier meeting held at the beginning of the month, where members of the Howard Hunter Villas project committee directed Davison to draft a letter with requested items in order for the town’s acceptance of the project’s water and sewer system and the engineer’s certification to be submitted to the state.

Among those items requested were: bacteria and pressure tests for the water lines and sewer test reports for the sewer lines.

Also requested was a project timeline that was submitted to the Development Center, a list of the lending sources for the project, as well as their funding cycles and a comprehensive breakdown of the monies the Initiative has put into the project.

In a later interview, Davison said the requests for the water and sewer lines have been provided.

A package with the remaining requested documents is expected to be delivered by Peoples to the Town Hall on Wednesday (Nov. 26)

Davison added an engineer’s report for the certification of the materials has already been obtained as well.

As for the $104,000 the Department of Community Assistance (DCA) the town was informed it would have to pay in order to finalize the infrastructure and make the necessary upgrades to the lift station, the entities, including DCA, discussed splitting the costs.

The Initiative would come up with $75,000, DCA with $50,000 and the town and county with $10,000 each. The amount for the county and town has yet to be approved by the respective governing boards.

County Manager Loria Williams could not attend the Tuesday meeting.

Recently, following a bid process, the redesigning of the Holly Hill lift station was awarded to Boney, Finch and Associates.

Upon receipt of the estimate for upgrading the lift station, the town submitted a request to DCA on behalf of QUOLA in order to reduce the number of homes planned for the Villas from 20 to 10, a time extension on the town’s portion of a 2004 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and to increase funding by $104,000 to finalize infrastructure for the project and make the upgrades to the lift station.

The $200,000 CDBG is nearly three years past its closeout date. Currently there is only $81,851.71 left on the grant.

Previously, town officials agreed to put the project on hold after they were informed by DCA if the project moved forward the town would have to pay the $104,000. However, if the town does not move forward, there will be an approximate $118,000 loss from the grant.