The town of Knightdale seems set to depart from the deal it made with former Mayor Billy Wilder on the use of land he sold to the town.
Part of the land in the park will likely be diverted to decidedly non-park uses. The town now wants to improve the corridor along First Avenue and extend the Old Town business district to include a portion of the land in the park that fronts First Avenue.
Wilder says that wasn’t deal he made with the town and he wants the council to scrap the idea.
Unfortunately for Wilder, the lawyers who drew up the contract give the town a broad option to do anything they want to do, regardless of what they initially told Wilder and Knightdale residents.
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The town is free to change its mind and do other things, which is unfortunate given the wishes of the property owner who sold the land to the town at a cut rate in hopes of preserving open space in the town.
And, while we don’t experess an opinion on the nature of the commercial development now being proposed, we worry that the town of Knightdale’s reputation will suffer if town leaders don’t stick to the script that was agreed on in the first place.
It does not help the town in future negotiations for a potential sales partner to realize that the town’s word can’t be taken for good.
The town has a valuable asset in Knightdale Station Park. As proposed, the park would give residents a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of suburban life. Absent some strict guidelines to prevent it, park patrons run the risk under the new plan of visiting a park, looking up and seeing the back wall of a commercial building. That’s not exactly getting away from the trials and tribulations of life.
The town has other options for extending the business district along Main Street and enticing other property owners to join in that effort. Incentives can make it lucrative for property owners and potential new tenants who want to participate.
And keeping their promises would be worth an immeasurable amount.