An eye on the future

Published 8:51 am Wednesday, February 27, 2019

MURFREESBORO – The town of Murfreesboro had a few extra visitors back in November last year. They returned on Wednesday, Feb. 13 with recommendations for Murfreesboro’s Town Council during their regular meeting.

The visitors were consultants from the Construction Professional Network Institute (CPNI) and NCGrowth. The groups—accompanied by various Murfreesboro town officials and community stakeholders—previously visited the for a workshop where they could assess the resources of the area and provide recommendations on how to move the town forward.

Mike Bedell of CPNI presented the results to the Town Council. Their assessment highlighted assets such as the historic district, the riverfront, the park, Chowan University, and main street. They also noted the town’s need for more lodging, upgraded infrastructure, and pedestrian connectivity.

“It seems to be quite a few people who use the Chowan University area for walking. That’s kind of what drove us to this walking path,” Bedell explained, referring to one suggestion to develop a pedestrian trail that would connect several parts of town together.

CPNI’s report had a few more recommendations Bedell shared with the Council. Along with the walking trail suggestion, these included creating a task force to help develop a 20-25-year plan for the town, increasing lodging opportunities, and developing a stronger partnership with Chowan University.

“It’s a lot of enthusiasm, and then everybody goes home and forgets about it. We need some results,” said Council member Billy Theodorakis. “What would you do first?”

Carolyn Fryberger, a representative from NCGrowth who also spoke during the presentation, suggested to focus on the task force first to make it easier to maintain dedication to keeping the long-term projects in motion.

“That group can then lead the process of developing a vision statement for the town,” Fryberger explained.

Most of the evening’s discussion, however, centered around the need for a hotel.

Theodorakis talked about his wish for a hotel that would be located near both Chowan and the downtown district, noting the need for visitors to have lodging options in town instead of traveling to Ahoskie or Roanoke Rapids.

John Hinton, who was appointed to serve out the rest of Mitch Radford’s term on the Council after Radford moved away, gave the CPNI representatives information on past unsuccessful attempts to bring a hotel to Murfreesboro.

Bedell said he believed a hotel would definitely be utilized often to serve the Murfreesboro community. CPNI’s report suggested a market analysis be done again in order to get specific numbers on the need for lodging.

“Any time you’re going after any grants, as you guys know, you’ve got to have a plan,” he said. “You’ve got to have something to show them.”

Bedell also reminded the Council that any projects they choose to work on would require patience. The pedestrian path, for example, he estimated would take at least three years to come to fruition.

Mayor Hal Thomas thanked Bedell, Fryberger, and the other workshop participants for their recommendations. He said they would start working towards creating a task force by March.