City will use grant for downtown improvements

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, December 8, 2016

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, is scheduled to consider authorizing the mayor and chief financial officer to sign documents related to a grant to help pay for downtown revitalization.

The city has been awarded a $94,340 grant, which will be used for enhancements in the city’s central business district, including streetscape projects. The money, awarded by the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Division of Rural Economic Development, will be distributed this way: $10,000 to Arts of the Pamlico to provide downtown artwork, $30,000 for the city’ façade-improvement program for downtown and $54,340 for streetscape, park improvements and possible Wi-Fi connections downtown, according to a city document. The City Council and the city’s Historic Preservation Commission would approve all design aspects of such projects.

In August, the City Council voted 4-1 to adopt the funding recommendations from a group that discussed how to spend the money. Before the Aug. 8 council meeting, City Manager Bobby Roberson met with group representatives — Arts of the Pamlico, Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, Washington Tourism Development Authority — and city staff to develop a plan on how to spend the funds.

The group’s discussion focused on several proposals, including the following:

  • introduction if “art” into the central business district;
  • additional funding for the façade program;
  • introducing a water fountain (not a drinking fountain) into downtown;
  • explore Wi-Fi capabilities downtown;
  • improve existing planters along streets;
  • improve entrance to Stewart Parkway, specifically Underground Railroad Museum and Civic Center area facing West Main Street, the area west of Sloan Insurance and the Crab Park area next to the former Havens Mill property.

Councilman Doug Mercer, who voted against the funding plan, suggested some of the grant funding be used to “take at the curve” at the intersection of West Main and Gladden streets, saying such a change would improve traffic flow in that area. Mayor Mac Hodges recommended using part of the money to extend sidewalks at the Washington Civic Center and Washington Underground Railroad Museum that “end in dirt.” Council member Virginia Finnerty suggested some of the money be used to improve the “shabby” waterfront promenade.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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