Town sees progress on revitalization efforts

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2017

BELHAVEN — The Town of Belhaven is making strides in its ongoing Small Town Main Street project.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce designated Belhaven as a “Small Town Main Street” location in 2013. This program is meant to provide needed resources and guidance to small communities to help with revitalization.

Among Belhaven’s current projects are the Southern Railways Caboose X682 and a new gazebo area.

Work began on renovating the circa-1950s caboose in 2015. Phase I of the project has been completed, Alderman Yvonne DeRuiz told the Belhaven Board of Aldermen at Monday night’s meeting. That phase involved improvements to the steel structure of the caboose and a fresh coat of paint.

With the help of “Small Town” funds, phase II should begin this spring, according to DeRuiz. The upcoming phase will focus more on inside renovations.

“The town is working with Small Town to repurpose the decking and the steps around the temporary police trailer that we had. We’re going repurpose those and use those around the caboose,” DeRuiz said Monday night.

Also on the agenda is the gazebo and picnic area in the works.

DeRuiz said T.J. Marine Construction offered to donate a 16-foot structure to the project in memory of the late Dr. Charles Boyette. The finished product will be 48 feet long, she added, and the town is helping to fill the space with soil to avoid any water trouble in the future.

“We have money in the Small Town budget that has been all for maintenance, landscaping,” DeRuiz said. “The ICW Festival in 2015 contributed $3,500 to the project, and in 2016 contributed $3,700, so we have money to finish that project, as well.”

She said organizers hope to have the gazebo area up and running for residents to use this summer.

Gov. Roy Cooper included a line item in his 2017-2018 proposed budget that would allot $5 million to the state’s Small Town Main Street program. If that comes to fruition, DeRuiz said it would bode well for the town’s revitalization efforts.

“We don’t know how that’s going to turn out, but we’re hoping for something,” she said.