After a weekend planning retreat in New Bern, Morrisville Mayor Mark Stohlman said the town’s leaders returned with renewed resolve to take action on several issues that have been discussed for years.
Major projects, like the McCrimmon Parkway bypass, renovation of the Morrisville Aquatic and Fitness Center and approval of the Wake County Transit plan, were at the top of the retreat’s agenda.
“We have the resources to do what we’ve committed to, so let’s get these things executed,” Stohlman said. “But road projects take a long, long, time. I know why it takes a long time, but the average person stuck in traffic is wondering why it hasn’t happened yet.”
Councilman Steve Rao agreed with Stohlman, emphasizing the need for the town to communicate progress and delays on those initiatives to residents.
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The council also discussed plans for the Morrisville town center in anticipation of a visit from a consulting firm at next week’s council meeting. Stohlman said he hoped a plan would be nailed down quickly so the town could start soliciting bids from developers.
For years, the town has discussed creating a central main street with a mix of commercial, retail and residential development. The town has spent millions to buy land near the corner of Town Hall Drive and Jeremiah Street. The town hired the Development Finance Initiative, which is associated with the UNC School of Government, to guide development of the land and nearby properties.
The retreat also helped the council establish budget priorities for the coming year, said Stephanie Smith, the town’s spokeswoman.
The three-day, two-night trip to the coast cost the town $11,000, compared to $9,000 last year and $5,000 the year before that. Smith said in an email that this year’s cost reflected the larger-than-normal number of staff who attended and were involved in discussions at this year’s retreat.
“We realize it’s a sensitive subject, and people expect us to use tax dollars wisely,” Stohlman said, adding that the council made the two-and-a-half hour trip in a school bus and ate mostly boxed lunches. “The benefit is that we had a really good retreat and have some good things coming out of it this year.”
Henry Gargan: 919-469-2604; @hgargan