Town approves $100,000 to begin work on Master Plan

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By David Meade

During their council meeting Monday, Williamston Town Council took another step forward in positioning the town for the future by approving funding for a Master Plan.

Council approved $75,000 in funding for a comprehensive Master Plan and an additional $25,000 for implementation of the plan.

Marion Middleton Jr. representing the town’s Planning Commission, presented information about the request for funding to proceed with the Master Plan.

Middleton said the planning commission received three plan proposals and recommended that one submitted by Arnett Muldrow is the best for what the town is looking for.

Middleton said the Master Plan will help prevent projects and plans being implemented in a “piecemeal fashion” and will “connect the dots through plan initiatives and public input for a long term planning guide for the town.”

“I think this is an investment in our town’s future,” Middleton said. “It will focus this town on a plan everybody has a connection to. I truly believe this plan is best for the future of our town.”

Mayor Durham said the town has funds in the general fund to cover the cost and made the motion to approve the recommendation to have Muldrow come up with a Master Plan.

There was some discussion about whether some of the funding could come from the town’s Hospitality Tax fund.

During discussion on the request, Councilman Rockey Burgess said, “I support the mayor whole heartedly. I felt the same way about our Main St. Program. This makes perfect sense to me.”

Burgess added that he needs reassurance that once the plan is completed, “it will not sit on a shelf somewhere and all that money went down the drain.”

Town Attorney Lee Cole advised that the town would adopt the master plan as an ordinance and that other wording for an ordinance for implementation could be worked on at a later date.

Mayor Durham said, “The comprehensive plan simplifies my job as mayor, to take politics out of growth of the town.”

The motion to approve funding for Arnett Muldrow to do a Master Plan for the town was approved unanimously.

In other action, with a 3-2 vote, council agreed to draw up an ordinance for a referendum to change the town’s form of government. (See separate story) The issue arose this week after councilmembers said they had been misinformed by the mayor on the town’s street enhancement project.

Councilmen Burgess, David Harvell and Otis Scott voted in favor of the change. Councilman Tony Hagood and Mayor Mack Durham were opposed.

The ordinance will be presented at the March meeting of council and a special called meeting will be held two weeks later for second reading.

Council approved a request by Life Church to use the park May 9 for a Block Party. The event will have live entertainment, food, bouncys, face paining and other activities.

Awarding of a construction bid on the Mineral Spring Trail project was tabled after questions arose about who would oversee the project.

Mayor Durham presented information of a design/build construction bid on the project by Capital Construction of the Carolinas in Spartanburg.

The project includes a 1,320 ft long, 10 ft. wide concrete walking trail that will begin at the old water plant and end at the second wood bridge on Big Creek at the Veterans Park.

No price was presented along with the proposal at the meeting. The project is being funded by a SCPRT Recreational Trails Grant.

Councilman Rockey Burgess requested additional information about the project including a map/layout and raised the issue of who will oversee the project.

Council approved a proclamation designating February as Black History Month.

Council approved first reading on an ordinance addressing false fire alarms. The ordinance establishes a $100 fine for occurences in excess of three times in a twelve month period.

Council also set the date for the July 4th Freedom Celebration. The event will be held on Independence Day, Saturday July 4th this year.