During the Christmas celebration of 2017, my family and I, once again, enjoyed Hollywood’s classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Our small town of Hope Mills has many similarities to the fictional Bedford Falls, where neighbors and neighborhoods identify as family. As our once mill villages continue to grow as one large community, 2018 promises to be a fruitful and exciting time for us all.
With much anticipation, the town awaits the return of its centerpiece: Hope Mills Lake, which will be accented with a new public fishing pier, a freshly painted pedestrian bridge and a plan for a new parking lot and entrance to the lake park. The lake park will have a boardwalk, complete with swings for our community to enjoy the lake.
Just across Lakeview Road, Heritage Park should begin to take shape in 2018 with additional recreational opportunities for citizens while reminding us of our mill village heritage.
The long-awaited town museum and historical district will become a reality in 2018 with the help of Hope Mills’ Historical Preservation Commission and town staff. The town’s Appearance Committee will oversee the landscape and beautification projects in the lake park and museum plans.
The Parks and Recreation Committee along with town staff will continue work on a complete recreation plan for all areas in Hope Mills, focusing on the property on Golfview Road in the coming year.
Our talented town manager, Melissa Adams, is leading the way with plans for additional Citizens’ Academies, more community activities and cultural arts programs at the Town Hall complex.
Hope Mills Park will benefit from a new parking lot set to open in January 2018 near the Main Street entrance to the park, giving more citizens access to the activities.
Hope Mills’ Public Works Department continues to improve the community’s appearance with the addition of a new leaf truck. The town staff is involved in all aspects of the new dam and Lake Park, which means 2018 will be a busy time for this department.
Public Safety Building plans will move forward in 2018 with the development of a funding plan for the new structure’s design. This much-needed facility will house the town’s Police and Fire Departments. It will not be built this year, but we hope to have a ground breaking before 2019.
This month, the town board of commissioners and town staff will create a strategic plan with achievable goals for the new year. This will be followed by a budget retreat in March to create a budget that meets the needs of our community – a unified board with a vision for Hope Mills.
There is hope for relief from the town’s traffic congestion with the completion of the Multimodal Congestion Plan in 2018. This plan is being developed by professionals with input from our citizens and is being funded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to provide recommendations for improved travel in Hope Mills.
2018 brings a renewed interest in economic development as evidenced by a partnership between the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Corporation, the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce and the Hope Mills Board and town staff. Hope Mills is moving forward with a vision for jobs and planned growth in cooperation with the Cumberland County commissioners, the mayors of neighboring small towns, PWC and NCDOT to ensure we are all members of a unified team for our community and for Cumberland County.
It must be acknowledged that the exciting times ahead are because of the strategic plans and work of the 2015-17 board of commissioners and staff. As successful as our previous boards have been, it is bittersweet without some of our leaders who have passed on: former Mayor and Commissioner Edwin Deaver, long-time Mayor Pro Tem Bob Gorman and former Mayor and Commissioner Al Bradford. Each of these leaders left a legacy of dedication to our town and enabled our lake to return in 2018.
In the 1946 movie, a quote is given that is applicable to Hope Mills. The angel Clarence says, “Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?’
It is a wonderful time in Hope Mills – thanks to those past and present. Hope Mills, as was Bedford Falls, is a blessed place to call home.
Happy New Year!