Slocum Creek project shows vision

Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at 05:28 PM.

It reminds me of what happened in Manteo in the early 1980s when that small island town committed to revitalizing a downtown district that had been scarred in a 1939 fire that destroyed 26 buildings.

That waterfront area was, in large part, a jumble of empty lots filled with unsightly debris when I moved to Manteo to start my job as a reporter at the local paper in 1983.

Despite some opposition, a progressive mayor and supportive board worked with a team from the North Carolina State University School of Design to develop a plan for revitalization. Year by year, over the next decade, with cooperation from the state, the effort changed the face of the downtown into the thriving waterfront community that it is today.

The vision that Manteo leaders had to save their waterfront also reminds me of the vision New Bern leaders had in joining the public and private sector to create a new life for that downtown. When I was a child, my grandmother took us downtown to New Bern, and all I remember were empty streets and boarded up buildings. That is not the case at all today, as the vision to revitalize old New Bern came to fruition. Looking at the thriving businesses and streets filled with shoppers, one can hardly imagine the depressed period it had once gone through.

Now, Havelock is in line to benefit by the same forward-thinking spirit that turned around Manteo and New Bern.

It actually started as far back as the 1970s when members of the Havelock Planning Board sought to have the aging Church Road Bridge replaced.

We can see now that the circa-1924 bridge is gone and replaced this month by a new span decorated with attractive lighting fixtures and a pedestrian path.

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