Improvements Are Geared to Pinehurst's Changing Personality
Paul Dunn offered some interesting thoughts in his Nov. 25 column. However, some further clarification is needed.
First, the downtown improvements are not designed solely for activities associated with the 2014 U.S. Opens. Though we want all projects completed by then, the improvements are for us! Yes, for the businesses in Pinehurst, the residents of Pinehurst, and visitors to Pinehurst. Our downtown studies have all shown that the lack of parking and inadequate parking (i.e., sand) limit visits to Old Town.
Further, a statistically valid survey commissioned by the village has shown what we have long suspected: We are, indeed, changing. More than half of Pinehurst residents are now under the age of 55; more than 60 percent are employed; and less than 30 percent are retired. Sixty-five percent of residents have lived here fewer than 10 years. These numbers were quite different when I moved here 15 years ago.
Another sea change has occurred in our economy. No longer are retirees arriving by the hundreds every year. An uncertain economic future has caused delays in retirement or retirement "in place," just in case a return to work is necessary.
But Pinehurst is attracting new residents. While our tourism and service industries show modest growth, young professionals are moving here to take positions in our growing health care industry, and military families stationed at nearby Fort Bragg are attracted by our quality of life. In this electronic age where one can work from virtually anywhere, more entrepreneurs and off-site workers are choosing to call Pinehurst home.
Now to the downtown improvement - improvements that will showcase our village as the warm and friendly place we are, with a three-quarter-acre green for downtown events and a parking lot with a stabilized, sand-colored surface.
The $850,000 project includes two streetscape enhancements and Tufts Memorial Park, as well as the addition of about 40 parking spaces. So Mr. Dunn's overestimation of the cost ($1 million) and his basic calculation of $25,000 per space is a gross exaggeration. There are more than 1,100 trees on the Village Green; 90 will be removed for the project, with 40 planted back. Anyone can visit Village Hall and view the entire plan.
Indeed, the National Park Service (NPS) did frown upon our converting sand/clay paths to brick. However, brick public walkways comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act and are safer for all walkers. Without a doubt, a stabilized parking surface will be more user-friendly, and the most remote parking spaces will be used by business owners and employees.
The village hired JMA Historic Planning Consultants in lieu of spending $125,000 on a Cultural Landscape Report, which was not supported by the community. JMA will document our projects and offer advice on plantings to ensure that Warren Manning's planting palette is retained throughout the core village.
Finally, my belief has always been that the qualities that prompted our Historic Landmark designation can never be lost or destroyed. Pinehurst has always been and always will be the "First Recreation Destination" in the United States, and we will always be known for the superb golf architecture of Donald Ross.
Oh, and the restrooms - we're working on that, too.
Nancy Fiorillo is the mayor of the village of Pinehurst.
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