Rural Center doubles funding

Published 10:54 am Monday, September 6, 2010

GATESVILLE – The NC Rural Center has more than doubled its grant funding to Gates County in regards to the development of property along a portion of US 158 near Gates County High School.

In a letter dated Aug. 27 to Gates County Manager Toby Chappell, NC Rural Center President Billy Ray Hall announced that his organization has awarded an Economic

Infrastructure Program grant increase in the amount of $355,000 for the project entitled “Gates County Family Fun Center Sewer Improvements.”

The Rural Center had originally awarded $345,000 for the project.

“This grant amount now totals $700,000,” Hall said in his letter. “The purpose of this program is to assist units of local government with construction of water and wastewater projects that lead directly to job creation in the private sector. Congratulations on this award increase. We extend our best wishes to you for continued success and look forward to hearing about your accomplishments during the year.”

The development of the Gates County Family Fun Center is just one part of the overall development of a core area along US 158 from just west of Eleanors Crossroads to just east of Easons Crossroads, including the Kim Olds property. That entire area has been targeted for commercial and residential growth.

The Gates County Board of Commissioners voted in November of last year to seek grant funds to pay for the wastewater infrastructure that will support the project.

That project, submitted by the developer – Dr. Lewis Fisher Jr. – proposes to construct a multi-purpose recreational facility on 7.5 acres of land within the Kim Olds complex located off US 158 across from Gates County High School.

Plans for the facility include a bowling alley, movie theater, indoor bumper cars, food court and games arcade. The proposed Family Fun Center is projected to serve not only Gates County citizens, but those in Bertie, Hertford, Chowan, Camden, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties.

Additionally, the bowling ally can support Chowan University who recently added women’s bowling to its list of athletic programs.

The Center will also provide much-needed jobs in the local area as it plans to employ 29 individuals.

Commission Chairman Graham Twine read Hall’s letter at last week’s board meeting.

“This is the starting piece of the project here in Gates County with our sewer district as the county takes ownership sometimes in the near future of the sewage system at the prison (recently closed by the state). This is great news,” Twine said.

Gates County Manager Toby Chappell was equally as thrilled with the additional funds.

“This show that the board of commissioners are serious about this project,” he said. “Progress is being made towards economic development and this is a significant step forward in that direction.”

“This is just one source of grant funding,” Chappell stressed. “The commissioners have made a commitment for economic development and we will continue in pursuit of other streams of money in an effort to reach our goal.”

Chappell said requests will be made to the Economic Development Association, Community Development Block Grant and Golden Leaf.

As far as the overall costs of the project, Chappell said that hinges on which phase the commissioners chose to implement. Phase 1 comes with a $2.6 million price tag.

As far as the timetable of the project is concerned, Chappell said that would depend on an agreement with the state Department of Correction (DOC) regarding the transfer of ownership.

“It’s an ongoing negotiation at this point,” he stated. “If we can come to an agreement, I would say this ownership transfer can take place within the next 60 days assuming that we can receive a workable project from DOC.”

The project would make significant improvements to the wastewater treatment plant currently in place at the Gates County Correctional Facility, which closed late last year.

A draft study of the project was performed last year by Cavanaugh & Associates of Winston-Salem. According to the feasibility study, paid for by a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation, the treatment facility could be located on the 20-acre site once used for wastewater treatment by the Gates County Correctional Facility. That treatment facility, which also serves Gates County High School and Central Middle School, is permitted to operate at 25,000 gallons per day (gpd), although its existing daily flow is 11,000 gallons.

What Cavanaugh & Associates suggested was a 50,000 gpd wastewater plant. That would take in the existing 11,000-gallon daily flow and allow for the projected commercial growth within the core area.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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