Forward thinking for Belhaven|Town officials excited about current, future projects

Published 3:08 am Friday, November 6, 2009

Community Editor

With the re-election of Mayor Adam O’Neal and Councilmen Steve Carawan and Howard Moore, the Town of Belhaven is looking forward to moving forward on current and future projects.
Town officials listed a number of projects set to be completed by some time in 2010, including the replacement of the town’s harbor breakwater, construction of docks at Wynne’s Gut, inflow and infiltration of the town’s sewer system, construction of a sewer bypass around the infrastructure of the town and renovations to the town’s fire station.
All of the projects are being funded or are expected to be funded using town money and/or grants from government agencies.
Town officials pointed to fixing the town’s sewer system as a top priority.
Repairs to the system’s inflow and infiltration and construction of the system’s bypass will be funded using two separate $1 million matching grants from the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center. The town will have to provide $500,000 for each matching grant.
The town is pursuing funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help pay for the matching grants.
“I think we will be successful (in receiving funding), but I don’t have the final answer,”O’Neal said. “We don’t want to wipe (the town’s) cash out with matching grants.”
O’Neal said the need for a sewer bypass is apparent.
“There is flow coming in that the system can’t handle,” he said. “(The bypass) will carry out-of-town sewage around the town’s existing infrastructure.”
Belhaven Town Manager Guinn Leverett said the improvements will not be visible to the naked eye, but important nonetheless.
Officials are also concerned about habitual tidal flooding on Main Street and throughout the downtown area.
“We’ve got to get the water out of the streets. It’s been going on here forever,” O’Neal said.
Flooding pipes have already been installed below Main Street, but the town is also looking at installing dikes to help combat the daily rising tides.
“We’re working on it real hard,” O’Neal said.
Officials also want to expand the Belhaven Recreation Department’s activities to include canoeing, and are looking into replacing the town’s tennis courts at Northside Park.
Aside from town projects, O’Neal and Carawan pointed to the positive growth of the Belhaven Police Department under new Chief Frederick Clingenpeel.
“We’re watching the police department continue to build a solid foundation with the community,” O’Neal said.
Referring to recent uniform crime statistics comparing the first nine months of this year to last year, Carawan said the overall crime rate in Belhaven is going down. He believes it is a direct result of increased foot patrols by the department’s officers.
“I like seeing our boys walking the streets,” Carawan said.
Councilman Nelson Guy expects the Belhaven Town Council to continue working as a team to implement the town’s numerous projects.
“I don’t see a problem. All of us are back in,” he said in regard to the council. “We will continue to have a positive outlook no matter what people start.”