Habitat, Midway Celebrate Start of New Housing
Residents of Midway are excited about the prospect of new neighbors moving in and breathing new life into their community.
On Saturday, the Midway Community Association and Habitat for Humanity of the NC Sandhills held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Victory Lane, the road that will lead into the new 22-home Midway Gardens neighborhood.
The day was one of celebration and commemoration for Midway and Habitat, along with the groups that helped make the project a reality, including the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Self-Help Credit Union and the town of Aberdeen.
"We're here!" said Elizabeth Cox, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, after the ceremony.
Midway Gardens has been a long process in the making for Midway and the organizations involved.
The aging, predominantly black community initially approached Habitat in 2008 with the help of the Center for Civil Rights with the idea to build a neighborhood that could bring younger residents to Midway and potentially allow several people who have moved away to come back to the area. >
After much time spent working with different groups to finalize plans for the project, Midway's dream of community revitalization is coming to fruition.
"It's an end to one promise, but it's the beginning of a better promise of building a community," Cox said.
Cox said the project is the success of a "microcosm of organizations" working together toward the same goal.
"The synergy that has been around this project has rejuvenated everybody at Habitat and everybody in Midway," Cox said. "If we all work together, then a community gets cleaned up."
Several months ago, the future of the project was uncertain when the Aberdeen Board of Commissioners denied a request to rezone the 12.83 acres from R-20 residential to R-15, which would have allowed Habitat to build more homes at a square-footage that accommodates the average Habitat family of four people.
Cox said that though she wishes the board would have approved the rezoning, she is thankful for the town's cooperation.
"The town still works with us as well as any other town in Moore County," Cox said. "They are doing what it takes to make sure that people in their town have affordable housing."
On Monday, workers from Sandhills Contractors began installing the sewer lines that will run under Victory Lane. The installation is expected to be completed by August.
The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin in September, pending sewer installation, with four homes that face Midway Road.
"Everything is contingent on something else," Cox said.
'It's a Blessing'
Homes in the neighborhood will vary in sizes between three-, four- and five-bedroom designs, allowing a diverse group of families to settle there.
The neighborhood will be the first Habitat project to meet NC Healthy Built Homes standards, thanks to the help of architects Alan Stagaard and Tessie Chao, local environmentalist Marsh Smith, and engineers from Hobbs Upchurch and Associates.
The consideration of house placement and design allows Habitat to drastically lessen the environmental impact of the project and make the use of utilities in the homes more efficient, according to Habitat.
The new designs also offer a more attractive look for the entire neighborhood with a variety of styles and color schemes for families to choose from.
Nikeya and Michael Stancil said they are excited to be the first Habitat homeowners to move into the community, though their home will be located across from the Midway Gardens site.
The couple and their two young sons, Elijah and Nicholas, look forward to the prospect of new neighbors across the street.
Both grew up in Midway and want a return to life in a community built on family values and faith.
"I already feel like I'm home," Nikeya Stancil said. "I always wanted to move back. I love it that [my father] can just come right around the corner."
Nikeya Stancil is also excited to own a home and settle in Midway with her family after years of renting.
"That's something I didn't have - a home," she said. "It just means a lot. I'm only 24 years old. We've been married for five years. It's a blessing."
Stancil wants her children to grow up in the same communal atmosphere that she and her husband enjoyed when they were growing up. She can't wait to meet the families that will be across the street at Midway Gardens.
"I love it that someone else is going to be a homeowner across the street," she said. "We would like for our kids to go across the street and play with the other children."
Maurice Holland Sr., former president of the Midway Community Association, was all smiles as he took in the fellowship around him.
"It's been a fabulous day," he said. "It's a culmination of all the efforts of several groups to get to this point. Now you have the prospect of new families with kids coming in. The community is becoming vibrant again."
Midway received water and sewer services from the Town of Aberdeen over a year ago, and in July, the community will celebrate the first anniversary of being annexed by the town.
Since these major changes have come about, the community has seen various improvements in daily life. Residents now enjoy town services - water and sewer, trash pickup, road maintenance and regular police patrols through the community.
However, Holland said the community still needs attention. Midway is still waiting for Aberdeen to complete the installation of streetlights, and the community has been working with the town to take down four to five more abandoned, dilapidated houses along Midway Road.
"There are still issues that need to be addressed, but things have drastically improved," Holland said. "Life has gotten better."
Holland said he hopes that the Midway Community Association can build on the momentum generated by the Habitat project and channel it toward addressing other community issues and preserving Midway's identity.
Holland said that the community's progress comes from the strong sense of unity that has always been a part of Midway.
"Now, we have a revitalization of that unity," Holland said. "You're getting the passage of traditions from one generation to the next, and now, with the Habitat community, we are going to have the passage of those traditions."
Holland said he hopes that other excluded communities, both locally and across the country, can look to Midway as an example of community revitalization and the preservation of local values.
"Other communities can see what we've been doing," Holland said. "They will be able to see the role that unity and persistence play."
Contact Hannah Sharpe by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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