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Ahoskie to fence in open ditch

AHOSKIE – Officials here will move forward with a plan to improve safety near a town park, but not as originally suggested.

In October, Ahoskie Councilman Winfred Hardy voiced his concerns over an open ditch on the south side of West Main Street adjacent to the town’s Recreation Center. He was fearful that a child, or even an adult for that matter, could fall into the ditch. Cost estimates at that time were in the $30,000 range.

Town Manager Tony Hammond released the official costs at the Council’s Dec. 14 meeting. He said if the town purchases the needed 200 feet of pipe and a box drain, that cost would be $14,280. He said an estimate from Buddy Godwin to install the pipe was $16,440 for a total cost of $30,720.

“This is not a budgeted item and would have to come from the Enterprise Fund Balance,” Hammond told Council members.

An alternative to the pipe was discussed at the Council’s November meeting. There, they instructed Hammond to provide a cost estimate on placing fencing on both sides of the ditch.

Hammond provided those figures at the Dec. 14 meeting. He said a five-foot chain link fence on both banks of the ditch would come with a price tag of $3,604. He added that this too was an unbudgeted item.

“Council has three options here: leave it like it is as it has been for 50 years; pipe it in or put in a chain link fence,” Hammond said.

“This is a no-brainer, but we’ll discuss it if you like,” Mayor Linda Blackburn said.

“I think the chain link fence will be fine,” Hardy said. “My main concern was someone falling in there and getting hurt.”

“Certainly a chain link fence should send a message that you shouldn’t go any closer (to the ditch),” Blackburn said.

“You do have the option to have the fence installed and, at a later time, if you decide to pipe in the ditch we can do just that and remove the fence and use it somewhere else on town property,” Hammond suggested.

“Someone would really have to go to a lot of trouble if they wanted to climb over a five-foot fence,” Councilman O.S. “Buck” Suiter Jr. noted.

“The town’s liability stops with that fence,” Blackburn said.

Hardy made the motion to approve the purchase and installation of the fence with Councilman Maurice Vann offering a second. The motion passed without objection.

In other matters to come before the Ahoskie Town Council at their Dec. 14 meeting:

Heard a presentation from Kelley Laskey of Rivers and Associates pertaining to a Master Plan developed, through a grant, by her firm that establishes bicycle routes in town. The plan was approved; the implementation of such will begin once funds become available.

Of 10 bids submitted, Council approved a $2.16 million offer by Ralph Hodge of Wilson for the town’s annexation sewer expansion line project. That work, funded by USDA grants and a low interest loan, will begin soon.

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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