$16K to keep Riverwalk on track

LUMBERTON — City Council members on Wednesday gave initial approval to spending an additional $16,340 on Phase 1 of the Riverwalk project.

The members met in City Hall as the Council Policy Committee. Actions taken Wednesday will be brought before the City Council on Monday for final consideration.

The Riverwalk spending was requested in the form of a change to the construction contract for the project to build a walkway with observation platforms along the Lumber River in downtown Lumberton, said Brandon Love, city Planning Department director. The extra money will cover the cost of addressing problems encountered when trying to drive piles into the riverbank, $1,740; the removal of a dead tree and one large stump, $7,000; and additional brush clearing and removal, $7,600.

The Riverwalk project will extend from the parking lot of the former N.C. Department of Transportation building to the Fifth Street bridge. It will include a boardwalk and overlook.

“I think we’re really going to have a showcase once the project is done,” Love said.

Committee members took steps Wednesday toward correcting problems caused by failing septic systems at Rosewood Mobile Home Park, located at 3525 E. Elizabethtown Road.

The council members approved a resolution to adopt a grant project ordinance and approved a resolution authorizing the city’s adoption of a program manual. The ordinance and the manual are requirements related to the city accepting $1,997,500 in Community Development Block Grant money from the N.C. Department of Environmental Control.

Monica Chevalier, of the Wooten Company, explained that the manual sets out all the rules and regulations the city must follow while undertaking the sewer improvement project.

The project, to be administered by the Wooten Company, is expected to cost a little more than $2 million. The mobile home park’s owner will contribute $25,900 to cover the cost of connecting the new system to homeowners who are not below the economic poverty line. The sewer upgrade includes installing about one mile of pipes and building a new lift station. The roadway will then need to be repaired and the old septic tanks removed.

Council members on Wednesday gave initial approval to accepting a $90,955 state improvement grant and related Federal Aviation Administration grant assurances. The money would be used to renovate the Lumberton Regional Airport’s terminal building. The grant calls for 5 percent matching funds from the city and 5 percent matching funds from the county.

In another airport action, the City Council members approved a $24,458 increase in the airport’s budget to hire a full-time lineman. The city would cover $16,292 of the budget increase, and the county would pay $8,146.

The assistant manager is up for retirement this month, said Troy Gammon, airport manager. The plan is to offer the full-time position to a part-time employee who just graduated from college and to eventually move him into the assistant manager position. Gammon said the part-time employee’s experience makes him an excellent choice for the assistant manager’s job.

“This is for longevity purposes,” Gammon said.

Discussion of changes to the city’s charter was postponed until after the new year.

The Lumber River Council of Government reviewed the city’s charter with the goal of suggesting ways to update it. City Attorney Holt Moore proposed Wednesday that the council members have a special meeting later this month to study and discuss the review. Councilman John Cantey suggested the meeting be postponed until after the Jan. 29 special election to fill the seats left vacant by the death of Leon Maynor and the resignation of sheriff-elect Burnis Wilkins.

Councilman Chris Howard made the motion to postpone the special meeting, and the motion was approved on a unanimous voice vote.

After the council approves a new charter it must be sent to the state General Assembly for legislative approval, Moore said.

“But there is no rush to get it done,” Moore said.

There is a rush to get a section of North Elm Street repaved before Christmas.

“This is a big one here,” Public Works Director Robert Armstrong said.

Council members approved allowing the Public Works Department to partner with the N.C. Department of Transportation to remill and repave Elm Street from 24th Street north to Roberts Avenue at an estimated cost of $197,000.

The N.C. DOT says the project can be linked to existing roadway work, which allows the Elm Street work to begin as quickly as possible, Armstrong said. The estimated project completion date is mid-December.

In other business, the Council Policy Committee approved:

— Amending the city’s budget so $2,500 can be given to Arrested Potential Inc., and its after-school tutoring program.

— Allowing the Lumberton Police Department to accept the 2019 Governor’s Highway Safety Program Grant in the amount of $29,272.

— Awarding a $784,255.50 contract for distribution line upgrades at Carthage and Fayetteville roads to Volt Power LLC.

— Supporting a wastewater regionalization study with the town of Bladenboro.

— Accepting the updated 10 Year Sanitary Sewer Capital Improvement Plan.

— A resolution allowing the Public Works Department to apply for a North Carolina Division of Water Infrastructure State Revolving Fund Loan and Grant for the Northwest Sanitary Sewer Diversion Project under Interstate 95. The project is expected to cost $1,150,000. The grant would be for $250,000 and the low-interest loan $750,000. The city would provide $150,000.

— The purchase of a steam cleaner by the Public Works Department at a cost of $6,105.

— Allowing the Public Works Department to buy well point accessories from Xylem for $23,967.08.

— A Public Works Department request that John McArthur Construction provide the labor and equipment to replace the existing sanitary sewer main on Alexander Street for $51,541. The material for the project will be provided by Public Works.

— Sending to the Planning Board a conditional-use permit request from Keilah Locklear for property at 3555 B North Roberts Ave.

— Sending to the Planning Board an annexation request from Elhuni Ali for property at 2485 E. Fifth St.

— Approved granting Pride In Lumberton awards to Lumberton Youth Baseball Association board members, businessman Harry Jhala and Robert Barr.

— Councilman Cantey’s request that the city install a 400-watt flood light at a business located at 311 E. Fifth St. and pay for the first three months’ usage at a cost of $120.

— Councilman Owen Thomas’ request for $400 of Community Revitalization Funds for a Mayfair Family Cookout and $1,000 of Community Revitalization Funds to be used for a Precinct 8 Community Day on Oct. 13 at Tanglewood Elementary School.

Wednesday’s meeting included the council and city staff wishing Councilman Howard a happy 70th birthday.

Anthony Monroe digs out a space at the Riverwalk project in downtown Lumberton on Wednesday. Monroe, a foreman with Axel McPherson Construction, plans to bring his family to the project once it is complete. “I think it’s a great idea,” he said. Monroe digs out a space at the Riverwalk project in downtown Lumberton on Wednesday. Monroe, a foreman with Axel McPherson Construction, plans to bring his family to the project once it is complete. “I think it’s a great idea,” he said.

T.C. Hunter

Managing editor

Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at