Northampton projects discussed

Published 4:32 pm Friday, October 14, 2022

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JACKSON – Northampton County’s Economic Development Office is working on a number of projects right now, according to Director Franklin Williams.

Williams shared an update on those projects with the county Board of Commissioners at their meeting on Oct. 3.

In Rich Square, he reported that the new walking trail – which was funded through grant money – has been completed. That trail is across from the former Creecy school building. Williams also explained that building itself is currently being assessed for electrical service.

The town and county are also working with NC Department of Transportation to fix downtown drainage issues. During his presentation, Williams also sought and obtained the commissioners’ approval for a contract with Stocks Engineering to work on the drainage project. That project is also grant funded by the state, but an engineering report is required by NCDOT before it can move forward.

For projects in Jackson, Williams stated that a report will be forthcoming soon for the feasibility and usage of the former Odom Prison site.

Additionally, progress is continuing on the construction of the new courthouse, and developers are continuing on a workforce development housing proposal. The courthouse project is funded through state and federal grants while the workforce housing is being funded through a $3 million federal grant.

For Seaboard, Williams announced that the wastewater expansion project – another grant-funded project with assistance from the Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments – is 100 percent completed. That project began a few years ago to connect the West Fraser (lumber products) facility outside of town to Seaboard’s wastewater system.

Williams’ updates on Garysburg included praising a new gravel and sand business.

“They are making their mark all over the East Coast,” he said.

He also stated that the town of Garysburg is currently working on housing and recreation projects, and are hoping to secure grant funding to move forward.

Williams said the town of Gaston is also seeking funds to improve recreation, and they’re also pursuing grant opportunities for a wastewater expansion line from the town to Lake Gaston.

In addition to those projects, Williams said a groundbreaking event is scheduled for Oct. 19 for the county’s planned Wellness Center at Lake Gaston.

Lastly, Williams said he had recently met with town officials in Woodland to discuss broadband internet possibilities.

Following Williams’ presentation, Commissioner Geneva Faulkner asked about future recreational options – including a playground – at the Creecy site in Rich Square, sparking a discussion on how involved the county should be in providing recreation throughout the different municipalities.

“We cannot control every recreation department in every town,” Board Chair Charles Tyner said, adding that he would prefer that the town provide volunteers to oversee the Creecy facility instead of the county.

“It’s our land. It’s our property, so we are responsible for it,” Faulkner replied.

“I hate to keep saying ‘next year, next year.’ I just want us to do what we promised our citizens we were going to do,” she continued, pointing out that a recreational facility in Rich Square was included in the Board’s four-year strategic plan unveiled back in 2019.

Williams suggested that the county should make sure funds are included in the next budget, noting that an amount was never specified in the strategic plan. He also stated a playground design company could come and give suggestions for what’s possible to do at the site.

Tyner concluded the discussion by asking the county manager to continue looking into the matter.