St. Pauls officials get earful from residents
by Scott Witten
ST. PAULS —Town leaders said they wanted to know what residents thought.
On Monday night, St Pauls officials got their wish.
The comments ran the gamut, from major concerns to minor inconveniences.
About 30 people attended the community forum at the District Courtroom in Town Hall that town officials hope to use to develop ideas on improving St. Pauls. Residents used the forum to express concerns about everything from “too many squirrels running around” to there not being enough signs promoting St. Pauls.
Speakers were restricted to three minutes, but could to talk about any issue.
“We’re overrun by squirrels,” St. Pauls resident Herbert Prevatt said. “We’ve got a rodent problem and we need to do something about it.”
Prevatt also used his time to talk about the town’s failure to keep up a cemetery where some of his family was buried.
“It is about fairness,” he said. “Why should I have to pay taxes to keep up some and not others?”
St. Pauls resident Elaine Ray asked town officials to contact the Robeson County Board Elections about new polling booths for St. Pauls voters.
“They look like the voting booths that my grandmother might have used,” she said. “They are old and falling down. It just doesn’t look presentable.”
Tom Keith, who grew up in St. Pauls, said the town should do more to try to attract and keep young people. He said having more walking trails would help.
“We’ve got a tremendous asset here in St. Pauls,” Keith said. “We need to find ways to enhance it.”
Julia Odom is concerned that the town is not friendly to those with handicaps. She said she went to a recent Night Out with a friend who had a hard time getting around in her wheelchair.
“We really need to look at wheelchair accessibility,” she said.
Odom also urged her fellow residents to be more open to locating businesses near residential areas. She said the town has lost several prospective businesses because of local opposition.
“We need to open up to commercial properties coming here,” she said. “We are losing business to our neighbors to the north and the south because of that.”
Town officials had hoped to attract about 100 residents to this first effort, but said that they were pleased with Monday’s turnout. Officials took notes on what they heard and said they would try to address the concerns that they could.
Mayor Gordon Westbrook said the town may hold a similar forum in a few months.
“I think it went very well,” Westbrook said after the forum. “I like a lot of what we heard. We’re gong to go back now and see what we can work on.”
Scott Witten works for Civitas Media as the editor of The St. Pauls Review and The Red Springs Citizen.
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