01PubPenThe topic of last Saturday’s meeting of Cumberland County Citizens United focused on the communities of Shaw Heights and Julie Heights. The presentations, discussions and information provided were to assist Fayetteville and Cumberland County residents in determining whether these poor, scarcely populated, run-down and nearly forgotten pieces of Cumberland County geography were worthy of annexation into the City of Fayetteville. 

Well, it was a very interesting and informative session with the pros and cons pretty much balancing each other out. For me, the highlight was the main presentation by District 8 City Councilman Ted Mohn. He was masterful in his explanation and delivery of what is a very important, intricate and delicate issue. The annexation question of Shaw Heights/Julie Heights showcased perfectly Mohn’s ability to analyze and articulate even the most complicated of issues. He recently announced he would not seek another term on the council. And that is unfortunate. Now, more than ever, the City needs his kind of insight and level-headed intelligence. 

In addition to Mohn, there were others on hand providing helpful information and explanations. State Representative Elmer Floyd, who introduced the Shaw Heights annexation bill, was on hand and spoke of the bill’s intention to provide governmental consistency that would allow for greater fairness and opportunities for economic growth and development, moving Fayetteville/Cumberland County forward.

 Wade Fowler was also present to represent PWC and explained the intricacies and cost of adding water and sewer service to residential and commercial projects and the various finance options that may or may not be available in the near future. 

City Councilman Bill Crisp was on hand. His position on the Shaw Heights annexation was muted. Even though Crisp is not a fan of forced annexation, he has made it clear he will not stand in the way of progress and will support whatever initiatives are recommended if they are in the best interest of Fayetteville residents. Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson feels pretty much the same way. He has empathy for the residents of Shaw and Julie Heights. He knows and understands their limited resources and he does not want to cause them undue financial or mental stress. Robertson takes his commitments and promises seriously. He has stood steadfast in opposition to forced annexation. This being said, I see no bigger advocate for the citizens of Shaw and Julie Heights and for whatever resources, plans or ideas that will enhance economic development, increase the tax base while enriching the lives of Fayetteville residents. There is so much potential in this area.  

Conspicuously absent from this important conversation was anyone from Cumberland County. No Commissioners. Extremely disappointing from the point of view that a great opportunity does exist here with the issue to “annex or not annex” Shaw Heights. Think about it: When approaching Fayetteville from Spring Lake, this portion of Fayetteville and Cumberland County could be a beautiful – impressive – Gateway into Fayetteville. To me, it resembles a huge blank canvas waiting for a talented artist to engage in painting a creative Gateway masterpiece. And, on the artist’s paint palette are all the necessary resources to make it a reality, unobstructed. The only thing needed to make this
a reality is cooperation. 

Cooperation between the city and the county. Cooperation, communication and teamwork. Those elusive traits that serve as the fuel for progress. Fuel? Perhaps our local governments have been running on empty for way too long. This would explain our inability to retain our citizens, grow our tax base and attract new business and economic development.  I will close with this request: I implore our local leadership to use this Shaw Height situation as an opportunity to demonstrate to the citizens and taxpayers of this county that collectively you have the ability to “do the right things, for the right reasons” while demonstrating that not all things the city and county engage in have to be partisan or controversial. 

With so many wonderful developments happening on the horizon, i.e. new parks and recreation enhancements, a baseball stadium, Civil War Education Center, a revitalized Downtown, the prospect of a performing arts center and the recent community-based initiative Vision 2026, we do not need any distractions. Distractions will only impede our progress, and progress is what we want to be all about. Thank you for reading U&CW. If you have a comment or opinion, feel free to email us or contact us on Facebook. We love hearing from our readers.

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