Petition Opposes Roundabout
More than 700 Pinehurst residents have signed a petition asking the Village Council to hold a public hearing on the proposed roundabout at N.C. 2 and Carolina Vista.
Opponents argue that the roundabout will negatively impact Pinehurst's national historic district.
"There are not many places that have a community designed by Frederick Olmsted," said Bob Tufts, one of the members of a group called Concerned Citizens of Pinehurst.
The group is made up of people who oppose the direction the current Village Council is taking Pinehurst. John Marcum is the leader of the group.
All the group wants is for the council to hold a public hearing, Marcum said.
"We've been trying to force the issue to be resolved at a local level," he said. "We're not interested in a big brouhaha in Raleigh and Washington."
Village Manager Andy Wilkison was out of the office this week and could not be reached for comment. The Pilot was unable to reach Mayor Steve Smith for comment. However, village leaders have said publicly and in an advertisement in The Pilot that the issue has been discussed at length. The council unanimously agreed at its Feb. 27 meeting not to hold a public hearing. State law does not require a public hearing.
Village leaders say the roundabout would improve traffic flow and ease congestion in that area.
The Pinehurst Civic Group had a forum on the issue in September 2006 and more than 200 residents attended.
The roundabout is a N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) project. The project includes relocating the intersection of Carolina Vista and N.C. 2 to the south, replacing it with a roundabout and lowering the grade of the hill on N.C. 2 near the intersection with N.C. 5.
The work would necessitate cutting down about 92 mature longleaf pines in George Marshall Park, which Pinehurst Resort owns. The trees are to be replanted once the road work is complete. The Village Council supports the project.
The intersection is a difficult one for bus loads full of guests from the Carolina Hotel to navigate, and it is especially difficult for people trying to turn left out of the club or the hotel onto N.C. 2.
Pinehurst Resort, though not actively campaigning for the project, is not opposed to it.
"It remains a NCDOT and village of Pinehurst project," said Don Padgett II, president and COO of Pinehurst. "We've relied on their expertise in traffic control, in planning for the future safety of the intersections."
Marcum, who is a member of the Pinehurst Country Club, said that most of the members are not in favor of the roundabout.
The N.C. Historical Commiss-ion first told the Village Council that the original plan to replace the intersection with a roundabout would have a significant impact on the historic district. The commission and the village worked together to try to mitigate the damage.
Marcum's group asked the Historical Commission to take another look at the issue. He said he was somewhat surprised when the commission agreed to put it on the agenda for its May 24 meeting.
It would be unlikely for DOT to proceed with the project prior to that meeting.
Marcum said that the real mystery is why the Village Council is so interested in having this project done. A DOT traffic study found that the longest wait at that intersection was less than a minute, Marcum said.
"We've not been able to find a reason for it," he said.
Tufts is the great-grandson of James Walker Tufts, the founder of Pinehurst.
"I don't think it affects me a lot personally," Tufts said. "It's just the wrong thing to do."
Tufts pointed out that the Carolina Vista entrance was not the original entrance to the club. He suggested opening the side/caddy entrance might alleviate some of the traffic problems.
However, other options on the N.C. 5 side of the club are limited because the railroad owns the right of way.
Marcum thinks the Pinehurst Resort side of Carolina Vista should be a one-way street and make the caddy entrance into the exit.
Roundabout opponents say that it is just a temporary fix and will eventually have to be replaced with a stop light.
"I think if we are going to change the town, we should think about the effect it is going to have," Tufts said. "Central Park has managed to survive in the middle of New York City without substantial changes. So, I guess some people think (Olmsted's) work is worth preserving."
Matthew Moriarty can be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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