Monday, 15 April 2019
Written by JEFF THOMPSON
“We expect to sell out every game.” These are the words of Fayetteville Woodpeckers President Mark Zarthar at an April 9 news conference. The April 18 opening game is a sellout. Zarthar said Segra Stadium could accommodate up to 6,000 fans. Its official capacity is 5,200. He said he isn’t the least bit worried about parking, noting that a five-minute walk to the stadium is part of the fan experience.
City officials contend there are 4,360 public and private parking spaces within five to seven minutes of the stadium.
City spokesman Kevin Arata said he doesn’t expect finding available parking will be a problem. “People will figure it out … they’re smart,” he said.
The city will charge $10 for each of the 1,100 parking spaces in the 12 controlled parking lots. They will be clearly marked with temporary roadside signs. “Paid parking will begin two hours prior to the start of the games,” Arata said.
One hundred and four handicapped parking spots for the disabled will be provided in the two parking lots behind city hall off Franklin Street. Six hundred on-street parking spaces will be free during ballgames. Arata said the city has no control over what property owners decide regarding their private lots. He noted that officials have been in touch with owners and await their decisions.
Hay Street between Winslow Street and Ray Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic on game days to create a safe pedestrian zone.
“We will monitor activity for the first month during the construction period,” said Police Chief Gina Hawkins. “We want traffic to have the least impact on the downtown area as possible.”
She and city traffic engineer Lee Jernigan noted that new marked, signalized crosswalks should make things easier for pedestrians. They added that adjustments will be made as needed in efforts to make citizens feel welcomed and encouraged to return for future downtown events.
The first Fayetteville home game will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 18, versus the Carolina Mudcats from Zebulon, North Carolina. The Woodpeckers are a Carolina League, Class A Advanced minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros. It is one of two expansion teams that increased league membership to 10 teams in 2017.
Former Fayetteville Deputy City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney now serves as the city manager of Rocky Mount. Before her departure in 2017, Small-Toney served as project director for Segra Stadium. As she tells it, former City Manager Ted Voorhees challenged her to come up with an economic development project for downtown Fayetteville. She suggested minor league baseball — and subsequently oversaw all phases of the stadium project, including the feasibility study, recruitment of the Houston Astros minor league team, development of the memorandum of understanding and the creation of a 30-year financial plan.
The stadium and nearby mixeduse commercial property are near completion in downtown Fayetteville.
Monday, 15 April 2019
Written by JEFF THOMPSON
Residents and families of Heritage Place and parishioners of First Presbyterian Church will be happy to learn that Ann Street will soon be open to traffic. The Ann Street bridge over Cross Creek has been closed for nearly six years. Ann Street connects Bow Street with Grove Street downtown.
A fire, believed to have been set by people who are homeless, heavily damaged the structure in October 2013. The cost of building a new bridge is $1.6 million, according to city of Fayetteville spokesman Kevin Arata. This does not include design work and the acquisition of additional property.
“We had to design it so it would prevent homeless people from living under it,” Arata said. “Nearby utilities created challenges for the design process … and we were challenged with permits and the fact that the bridge has historical ties.”
Officials hope to open the new bridge this summer.
Another highway median under construction
Work has begun on converting the center turn lane on Cliffdale Road near Bunce Road into a raised median. The North Carolina Department of Transportation said median projects, which have been underway locally for several years, are designed to improve safety and reduce the risk of collisions. Motorists will encounter lane reductions in the work zone.
In neighboring Robeson County, drivers will have a faster and safer way to travel on U.S. 74, where a DOT contractor is building an interchange at Broadridge Road, south of Lumberton. Girders for the new overpass were set last month. Officials hope to have the work completed by fall.
Rural fire tax to increase
The Cumberland County Public Safety Task Force has voted to request that the fire district tax rate be increased by 3.75 cents per $100 valuation for rural residents of the county. The recommended model will be presented to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners April 11, during their agenda work session.
Currently, residents in unincorporated areas pay 11.25 cents per $100 valuation, with 10 cents allocated to each of the 15 rural fire districts. The 01.25 cents tax is allocated to five low-wealth departments: Beaver Dam, Bethany, Godwin-Falcon, Stedman and Wade.
If approved for the next fiscal year by county commissioners, property owners will pay 15 cents per $100 valuation. Each of the volunteer fire departments would continue to receive funding calculated at 10 cents per $100, which totals approximately $7.4 million.
The new money generated by the tax increase will be used to strengthen overall fire service delivery through supplements, incentives and grants. Supplements would be allocated for departments that provide Emergency Medical Services and those few districts with more than one fire station.
Suspicious activity leads to deportation
A man who provoked Fort Bragg officials to close the post briefly last month will be deported, but he will not be charged with a crime, a federal judge has ruled. Nouran Ahmad Shihab Sueidan arrived at a gate at Fort Bragg on March 12 and told authorities he wanted to take a tour of the Special Operations facility.
Sueidan had a valid passport, but military police found that his visa, driver’s license and car registration were expired. Authorities said he became combative as he was being questioned but did not try to force his way onto the post. The incident prompted Fort Bragg to briefly restrict access to the post.
A psychiatrist who examined Sueidan determined he has “a mental disorder that compromises his ability to stand trial,” federal prosecutors said in court filing.
Prosecutors said they plan to turn Sueidan over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation. The Army did not reveal his home country.
New county government appointee
County Manager Amy Cannon has named Delores Taylor as director of the Cumberland County Community Development Office. Taylor has worked for CCCD for 20 years and served as interim director since July 2017.
As director, Taylor will manage a staff of 11 and an annual budget of approximately $2 million. The CCCD Office administers local U.S. Housing and Urban Development funds, which include funding of Community Development Block Grants, The HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Emergency Solutions Grants, and the Cumberland County Continuum of Care on Homelessness.
Taylor earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alaska in 1998 and a Master of Public Administration from Arkansas State University in 2017.
Downtown Easter fun
Cool Spring Downtown District will host horsedrawn Carriage Rides with the Easter Bunny on Friday, April 19, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The carriage will be decorated for Easter for family photos.
Tickets to ride with the rabbit are $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Each ride will last about 10-15 minutes. Early-bird rides between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. are $5 for adults and children. Tickets are available on the day of the event at 222 Hay St., across from the Cameo Art House Theatre. For more information, visit www.visitdowntownfayetteville.com.