It will probably come as no surprise to our readers that many of my conversations with local citizens revolve around what’s going on in the city, and in particular, with the local government. Recently the question was posed: “Are they doing anything good?” in reference to the Fayetteville City Council. That question was quickly followed up with, “If so, what is it?”
Staying abreast of the comings and goings of the council, I do my best to keep track of what is going on, but in this instance, I thought why not go to the source? So I contacted Mayor Robertson and asked him the question I was asked, which more or less comes down to, “What have you done for the people of the city lately?”
Those who know Robertson will understand that he didn’t miss a beat as he highlighted what was good in our city and how the city council is working and has worked together to improve the city, despite public sentiment that sees them as divided .
At the top of Robertson’s list was one of the council’s most recent accomplishments: the passage of the budget. Over the past month, the council has focused on its budget. The discussions have at times been heated, but the council remained dedicated to the process and for the first time in recent memory passed the upcoming budget unanimously.
That’s a pretty big deal when you consider dwindling federal funding and increasing demands for services by a growing population. If you throw in the pressure of the PWC/City Government dysfunction, it is almost what some consider miraculous. Robertson doesn’t see it that way, explaining that the council is not as divided as some would think.
“Most of the time, we are all on the same page,” he said. “We may disagree about the way to get from one point to the other, but we know the direction we are headed.”
Robertson takes great pride in the fact that the city’s crime rate has dropped again. Robertson ran his campaign with going after crime his top priority, and he has remained committed to it. He pointed out that the city has made some hard choices to get a handle on this issue and has worked in concert to go after crime . Steps taken include:
• Funding the police officers
• Opening a new west area Police sub-station
• Funding In-Car Camera Systems in all patrol cars
• Contracting with a new local crime laboratory to expedite the prosecution of criminals
• Installing monitored thoroughfare cameras throughout the city
• Installing Red light cameras at dangerous intersections
• Year over year crime rate reduction of 12.4 percent
• Expanding Community Watch and National Night Out participation
To improve the quality of life for local residents, the city has also made great strides in the area of Parks and Recreation.
The council studied and voted to:
• Re-introduce the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Youth Council
• Authorize construction of a new community pool at the Westover Recreation Center
• Fund expansion of both Linear Park as well as the River Trail
• Open City recreation centers on holidays
Public Transportation, which was a central focus of the previous council, remained on the radar, with the council accomplishing the following:
• Starting conversations with Fort Bragg, Cumberland County, Spring Lake and Hope Mills about Regional Transportation serving all of Cumberland County’s residents
• Now running routes onto Fort Bragg and connecting with Spring Lake and Hoke County buses
• Starting or expanding several routes
• Enacting programs for Cumberland County Schools student athletes to ride any FAST bus for free
• Approving $12.1 million for the construction of the new Transportation Center
• Increasing overall ridership.
Finally, in the area of economic development, Robertson reports that the city is making strides, continuing to update the Unified Development Ordinance, improving customer service and employee training, implementing a new “customer portal” for residents deal with Inspection and Permits Departments and continuing to create an environment that promotes growth.