Although the town attempted to insert a transportation plan in its 2014-15 budget without success, commissioners are determined to move forward this fiscal year.
Mike Surasky, an engineer with A. Morton Thomas and Associates, developed a proposal for the last fiscal year for updating the town’s transportation plans, and presented an updated plan during the board’s Feb. 23 meeting.
Although the town is pursuing a pedestrian grant with the N.C. Department of Transportation, Surasky will assist the town on a roadway focus, especially on Wendell Falls Parkway.
The corridor between Wendell Falls and the downtown will be essential as the town grows – a “backbone to the community,” said Surasky in a letter to town planners.
Surasky said he would also seek additional grant opportunities to pursue funding for the plan.
Commissioner Gina Gray expressed excitement about this plan.
“I fought for this,” she said. “We’ve needed it a long time and we’re in desperate need of it. It’s something we’re not just going to spend a lot of money on and let it sit on the shelf.”
Addressing the town’s transportation needs was among the priorities commissioners set at their planning retreat in January. At that time, Commissioner Sam Laughery, who serves as the town’s representative on the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization which doles out transportation funds, said the town currently had no plans on the state’s long-term project list.
He said part of the problem was that the town had no comprehensive plan for meeting its transportation needs or even what those needs were.
“Everybody knows that Buffalo Street at Wendell Boulevard is a need, but what else do we need? We don’t even know,” Laughery said.
Commissioners also officially approved the installment of Wi-Fi after past discussions of public Internet downtown.
The project should be completed within four months if there are no significant delays.
The work will cost the town $23,000 and that money will be pulled from the town’s savings.
Town IT administrator Tamah Hughes explained that she will be able to control the “channels” in the merge between public Wi-Fi and internal access for both security and Internet speed reasons.
“On weekends, we’ll give most of the 50 megabites to public Wi-Fi,” she said.
Businesses with a glass front could access Wi-Fi inside, at least toward the front of the building, Hughes said, and will receive window stickers advertising this amenity to the public.
There is a chance that the Wi-Fi could spread beyond downtown, though commissioners only asked about the ability for that access, not touching on costs.
“We’re dragging Wendell into the 21st century, like it or not,” said Commissioner Sam Laughery.