Why wasn’t downtown ready for World Series?

To the Editor,

We wondered. We watched. We waited. It didn’t happen.

As over 1,500 visitors from 11 states arrived, there stood our downtown plaza as if the victim of a terrorist attack. What was to have been completed in March, then June, and then July remains unfinished. To those of us who know the complete story, how can there be any excuses for this part of the city’s Five-Year Plan not being finalized, especially in time for the Dixie Youth World Series?

Both the plaza and Northeast Park projects were initiated in 2015. By January, the plaza project had its architectural drawings approved and funding in place. Since city maintenance crews were still dealing with Hurricane Matthew work, outside contractors lined up. The new plaza benches and trash receptacles were selected, ordered, and placed in a warehouse. The former plaza area and fountain were dug up and some water line problems identified. Suddenly, all worked stopped.

Work on the park continued and was completed in time for the World Series. As our visitors toured and dined in our downtown plaza area, there it sat in ruins. There wasn’t even a sign to inform our visitors that the plaza was being renovated. At least there could have been a large drawing of the future plaza so people could envision the future beauty of our downtown area. As our visitors return to their homes, I wonder what they will say to others about Lumberton. I seriously doubt that many positive comments will be uttered about the downtown.

During the last month, I have heard repeatedly from elected officials, city employees, and civic leaders that the Dixie Youth World Series was an opportunity for Lumberton to shine. You leave the center of your town in ruins with no explanation and you expect it to shine? I simply cannot imagine that this unfinished project hasn’t been disturbing to most of our citizens, especially during a time when people from far and wide visit our city.

To whom do we look for explanation and justification? City Hall. Only the following offices can help us to understand: Mayor, City Council members, City Manager, City Developer, Downtown Coordinator, Utilities Director, and others. With all logistics in place, why weren’t we ready? Broken promises lead to mistrust in our government servants and in our system as a whole.

We can do better, and our citizens should expect it and demand it.

Richard H. Monroe