WEB: Pinehurst Council Looking to Improve N.C. 5 Traffic, Recreation Services
The Pinehurst Village Council agreed Tuesday to proceed with a proposed Western Connector feasibility study to improve traffic flow in the N.C. 5 area and to plan a recreation center.
Council members received a report on the connector study, which the village commissioned in the spring. The hope is that the N.C. Department of Transportation would fund construction of the connector road, which would help relieve traffic through and around the Traffic Circle.
The council is holding a public workshop from 4-6 p.m. Nov. 8 in the Village Assembly Hall to receive input on a proposed corridor from N.C. 211 to the U.S. 1/15-501-area of southern Moore County.
An advisory committee has come up with three possible routes to relieve congestion around areas of N.C. 5 that can't be widened.
The committee includes Foxfire Village, the county, Aberdeen and PInehurst planners, Pinehurst Village Manager Andy Wilkison and Engineer Jay Gibson, in addition to large landowners.
At the workshop, members of the public will be split into three groups to come up with their own potential routes, from which the council will choose the eventual corridor.
The committee's map showing its three possible routes won't be shown to the public during the workshop, village Engineer Jay Gibson later said, so as not to interfere with their work.
The idea is to route round-trips between Seven Lakes and growing areas northwest of Pinehurst away from the Traffic Circle and the commercial areas in southern Moore, including Aberdeen.
NCDOT Division Engineer Tim Johnson and District Engineer Chuck Dumas attended the work session for the presentation. Johnson said the state has "no money" for the corridor. When pressed, he described the official state philosophy as "neutrality" toward the proposal.
The council also spent considerable time on a proposed $2.3 million freestanding recreation center.
Council members agreed to obtain more input on the project -- its centerpiece a gymnasium, the whole structure would span 13,000 square feet -- and to review other big-ticket items in the annual review of the five-year Capital Improvement Plan in December or January.
Mayor Steve Smith said that he thinks the village needs the center to serve its growing younger population but that he would oppose the proposal if it requires a tax rate increase.
Council member Doug Lapins has consistently opposed the center, saying he has seen no interest in such an initiative.
"It's a want, not a need," he said.
Council member Virginia Fallon and Mayor Pro Tem George Hillier seemed strongly in favor of the center.
Council member Lorraine Tweed wondered aloud whether the village could afford more debt service payments. Debt service is $1 million annually, said Assistant Manager Natalie Dean, but the village is well below the recommended maximum amount for a municipality of this size.
Village Parks and Recreation Director Mark Wagner said the center would be constructed on village-owned land at Cannon Park, where the village hall once stood. Statistics show that demand for recreation facilities has been growing each year and continues to grow, he said.
Wagner said he could apply for a state parks and recreation trust fund grant that could provide a maximum of $500,000 if approved.
In a separate report, independent auditors from Dixon Odom Co. of Southern Pines reported that the village tax base is $2.1 billion, up $1 million from the year before. The tax base provides the basis through which to finance most of the General Fund and the majority of local government operating expenses.
Countywide revaluation, done every four years now, reflects increases in fair market property values on existing business and personal property and growth in the tax base from new construction.
Check Friday's Pilot and ThePilot.com for full coverage.
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