Village Forum Helps Some Voters on Choices
Facing a variety of choices for two council seats and a mayor, several Pinehurst voters who attended the Pinehurst Civic Group forum Thursday night at Village Hall say the event helped them with their choices.
“It helped me solidify my choices,” said John Carstens.
He wasn’t the only one.
Steve McKay and Laurie Hartman also said what they heard, or didn’t hear, from the candidates during the debate helped them as well.
“Some of them seemed very knowledgeable on some things, not so knowledgeable on other things,” McKay said. “I think it was very beneficial.”
The event was the third candidates’ forum held in the village in recent weeks. It was the second — along with the Moore County League of Women Voter’s forum — in which all eight candidates attended.
Election Day is Nov. 8, and early voting continues through Nov. 5.
Current council members Nancy Fiorillo and Joan Thurman, and John Marcum, who lost to the late George Lane in 2007, are vying to be the village’s next mayor.
Current Mayor Ginsey Fallon and council member Mark Parson, along with John Strickland, Scott Lincicome and John Cashion, are running for the council.
Candidates had a three-minute introduction and then had two minutes to answer each of four different questions. Those came from a predetermined list of eight questions that the candidates didn’t see beforehand. In prior forums, the candidates had the questions ahead of time.
The two questions that generated a greater variety of responses were: What features of the National Historic Landmark status are the most valuable to the village and its residents, and what are the drawbacks or costs?
Marcum stressed the village must understand the importance of the National Historic Landmark status, especially as it relates to any changes to the Village Green.
“We entered into an agreement (with the National Park Service),” he said. “What we have to do now is live up to our custodial obligations. The Park Service has objected to a couple of plans. This objection doesn’t mean they are necessarily right, but it does mean we have to respond.”
Fiorillo said documents from the NPS show that the village has the Landmark status for two reasons — it was the first recreation destination in the country, and because of the famous people who lived here.
“There isn’t anything about improving a sand parking lot and creating a small village green in an area that long ago was intended to be a green space that could possibly jeopardize that status,” she said.
Thurman concurred with Fiorillo.
“Our Village Council has judiciously contemplated every step taken in consideration of this issue,” she said. “We have heard from Christine Arato, of the National Park Service, who told the village we are not in danger of losing our status as a National Historic Landmark.”
The other question asked of candidates was to complete the following sentence: “I believe the next step(s) with the Village Green, the Traditions and The Village Chapel should be (fill in the blank).”
Scott Lincicome offered an idea for Traditions, which many residents consider an eyesore.
“Let’s maybe plant 50 holly trees,” he said. “That’s what people do to screen things they don’t want to see.”
Parson said increasing the density of a property increases the property value, which raises architectural standards.
“That property has a better chance of being sold and something new being started with higher density,” Parson said.
Strickland said the village needs to proceed carefully on all three issues,
“With respect to Traditions, I was against it when the rezoning was done,” he said. “That land should be used for primary residences, not rental residences.”
Fallon said the idea for the Traditions property under the Comprehensive Long-Range Plan is to have smaller homes, where people could walk to the village and the Arboretum. She said that property is ideal for that.
“Mr. Donninger (the Traditions’ developer) is the disappointment,” she said. “I don’t think the idea is a disappointment.”
Cashion said the village may be between a rock and a hard place, and the best hope is “somebody buys it … Otherwise, I don’t think there is a whole lot you can do with it.”
All the candidates agreed that The Village Chapel is a private entity and what it does on its property is its business.
Another question regarded who should be responsible for defining a vision for the “revitalized” village center, and who is responsible for implementing those change. While most agreed the council should take the lead, some said the village must partner with the business community.
One resident voiced a complaint during the event because of the format. She said she expected a debate rather than a question-and-answer format. Candidates were given a minute at the end of the question period to give a closing statement or rebut answers or information provided by other candidates.
Pat Henry, of the Civic Group, moderated the event. He said he was pleased with the attendance and hoped the information residents received proves valuable on Election Day.
“They (candidates) all had a lot of good points,” Henry said. “I think tonight might make some of the voter’s decisions harder.”
Contact Tom Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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