As the final days of 2018 passed, Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner discussed her hopes and dreams for what’s ahead for the town in 2019. Here is some of what she shared in an interview with Up & Coming Weekly.
The one thing I see that we’ve got to work on is economic development. We have to start thinking ahead. The exits off Interstate 295 are going to be here before we know it. They are quickly moving to get that funded.
You are looking at Black’s Bridge Road or Golfview Road out to 295, that whole corridor I see as becoming a new gateway for Hope Mills. Since we have an opportunity, we need to plan that. We don’t need to let it be our gateway and be embarrassed by what people see when they come off at that exit.
What we need in Hope Mills is (to) maybe start trying to recruit. That might be an area where we could get a hotel or some other business we’re not aware of that would like the fact it’s coming off a major artery that surrounds this area.
Finish the lake park
I want to see the lake park phase two and phase three completed. We’ve been working on the lake and the dam coming back for such a long time. It’s a trophy for us that the dam is working. I would like the lake park updated, parking updated, so when people come there it’s easy in, easy out and more accessible for everybody.
The plans are in place. We’ve got to facilitate getting them completed. It’s going to take some figuring out where we get the funding, whether it’s grant funding or another means of funding. We need to put that in our forefront, that it’s something we want to accomplish and don’t let it linger any longer. My experience the whole time I’ve been mayor is if you can make those decisions and move on them, it’s less expensive. The longer you wait, the cost of labor, the cost of everything, goes up, and that’s kind of where we are.
Phase three includes Heritage Park. Heritage Park has been on the plans since before the dam went out. It was much cheaper to complete those plans in 2008 than it is right now.
I’d like to make sure the sidewalks we have received grants for, the ones on Rockfish Road and the ones on Johnson Street to Trade Street, are completed. Those have been in the works for a very long time, almost as long as I’ve been mayor.
It’s just a matter of making sure we are being good stewards of grant money, staying focused on trying to push to get it done. We want to get this job completed so we can walk from the ballparks (near the Town Hall complex) all the way down to the lake.
The crosswalks on Main Street would make it so we can walk right over to the lake and enjoy it. We can save cars being on the highway because we can park and walk, and it’s safer with those sidewalks in place. We’ll have a walking trail from the Town Hall and the gyms at Parks and Recreation all the way down to the businesses on Trade Street and the Lake. I think that’s important.
Develop Hope Mills Golf Course property
We need to take and use the plan we got from the McAdams Group. We spent a lot of money getting that in order. I think that we are going to have to start looking at being a unified board when something like (that study) is completed and brought back. They’ve done surveys. They’ve talked to the community. They are the professionals.
None of us (the mayor and members of the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners) are professionals when it comes to that kind of planning. We have got to take the “I” out of it.
I know what I would like there, and I know each of the board members has something they would like there. But we’ve got to be realistic. For us to get the job done, we’ve got to start accepting the fact that many of our citizens may not have the same opinions we have, and that’s who we represent. I think moving into 2019 that’s going to be real important, to sit back and listen to what our community is telling us, either by way of these surveys or the input we get from our meetings or input we might get from other sources.
The main thing is, if we listen, every board member has a good idea. But what happens is each of us has our own idea. We’ve got to somehow come to a unified board where we realize all of our ideas are outweighed by what our citizens want, and we’ve got to do what our citizens are asking. I think that’s what’s important when it comes to the golf course.
It’s going to attract attention if we do it the right way. I’d like to see us at the point where we’re moving on that, not trying to decide and differ from what the McAdams Group is bringing back to us.
Moving forward on Public Safety Building
That’s a perfect example of the cost of something changing over time. When we first started looking at it, we were talking about 6 1/2 to 7 million dollars. What we (recently) heard was potentially this building could cost 12 million dollars.
It may not be that high, but I’m glad to finally see us making a move. But I’m also thinking we are probably going to have to look at making a decision on other properties and doing it so we can take advantage of opportunities of different types of funding and also save cost.
In 2019 we have to get focused on what Hope Mills looks like in 2020, what we are going to look like in the next decade. We need to start thinking about what we want to see in areas that are going to be opening up because of change of ownership of some of the homes on Main Street if they are changed to commercial.
I want to say something about our board, our staff and our community and how important it is we all work together. That would be my goal for 2019, that we have a unified community moving forward. We are a good example of what a small, growing town looks like. I want this board to work together and be on common ground with the decisions we make.
We all represent Hope Mills, and we’ve got to put our best face forward, as a team, this whole town. We want to give the very best impression to anybody who cares about us or sees us.
Photo: Mayor Jackie Warner and husband, Alex Warner