The most visible sign of change in Havelock for 2014 may be construction of a new city hall building. But perhaps the most important may not be visible at all.
For the city, 2014 is expected to be a year of major projects, ranging from the new city hall to the completion of the sewer pipe relocation project, designed to allow for future growth in Havelock.
New city manager Frank Bottorff will have a front row seat for the construction of Havelock’s new city hall. His office in the current city hall is less than five feet from what will be the southeast corner of the new building.
“When they were flattening it out, I could feel the vibration of the rollers,” Bottorff said. “I certainly have a front row seat for the entire construction process, so there’s no doubt that I’ll have my eye on the ball the whole time. I’ll be able to give them plenty of supervision.”
Construction of the 9,295 square- foot building at the corner of Cunningham Boulevard and Governmental Avenue is in the early stages. The building is expected to be completed this year.
It is one of several city projects that could see significant development in 2014, including the sewer project, Slocum Creek recreation area and the Lewis Farm Road recreation area. The city also expected to complete a new economic development plan in 2014.
“Sewer is King”
The sewer pipe relocation project is about halfway through and could be completed by the summer.
The $11.5 million project moved the sewer discharge pipe from Slocum Creek about six miles across Cherry Point to the Neuse River. The project, which includes modifications to the sewer treatment plant, will raise the city’s sewer capacity from 1.9 million gallons per day to 2.25 million gallons per day.
“This will be a tremendous improvement for the city and gives us the ability for more development,” said Bottorff.
Currently, Havelock’s sewer system is near capacity, meaning the city would not be able to accept major commercial or residential developments. Completion of the project changes all that.
“Sewer is king,” Commissioner Danny Walsh said. “We are now prepared for the growth that everyone else has been enjoying. It’s our turn to accept some of this growth and to bring some of these commercial businesses in here and maybe to bring some of these restaurants if we’re lucky, but just be able to build anything that we want to build here in Havelock that we so desire. We now have the sewer capacity.”
Havelock Mayor Will Lewis called completion of the project a “huge step” toward city growth.
“In the past we’ve been hindered by the fact that we didn’t have sewer available when projects came to us,” Lewis said. “I think the economy is moving in a good direction and we’re going to be poised with our sewer and our infrastructure ready to help whenever businesses or residential development come on line. We’ll be able to support them where we haven’t been able to in the last several years.”
The pipe relocation is the first part of a three-phase project that calls for sewer capacity to be increased to 3.5 million gallons, which engineers project will satisfy the city’s sewer needs through 2030. The other two phases of the project have not started.
A place of center
Havelock could see substantive progress in 2014 on the Slocum Creek Waterfront Park.
Last year, the city made significant land purchases on the banks of Slocum Creek and announced a plan to develop a public water-access park. This year, the first phase of the development is expected to commence.
The city received word last week that it had been approved to receive a N.C. Division of Coastal Management grant of $60,700, with a $15,100 contribution from the city and $5,200 in the form of city employee time for the first phase. That project includes construction of a large kayak launch, a small kayak launch, picnic tables, park benches, trash receptacles, permanent cooking grills, a gravel driveway and signs.
It has yet to be determined exactly what route trails leading from the gravel parking lot to the water’s edge will take.
“We want to do them with minimal disturbance and working as best we can with the natural area,” said Katrina Marshall, city planner.
Lewis said the grant allows the city to get started on the project this year.
“What we are trying to do is make it useful,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing that this grant is going to help us do earlier than we would have been able to do with our own money. Right now you can go out there and walk around, but that’s about it. With this money, you’ll be able to kayak there. You’ll be able to fish. You’ll be able to sit down and eat your lunch, have a place to park and just enjoy the area. So that’s what you’re going to see with this money.”
Lewis said the park would be completed in phases.
“We’re creating a phased plan so that every year during budget, we can discuss that project and what we can afford as a city to move one step further,” he said.
Long-range plans call for the city to move the historic Trader Store and World War II-era train depot to the site, but that won’t happen this year. Lewis said the city would consider applying for grants specifically for historic preservation to finance that part of the project.
Lewis Farm Road park
In December, the city of Havelock received the deed to a 47-acre tract at the end of Lewis Farm Road from the N.C. Coastal Land Trust. The city also received word that it had qualified for a $500,000 N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant to develop a portion of the property into an athletic complex.
With the land and financing secured, the city plans to spend 2014 grading and improving the property to build two soccer fields.
“It will probably be 2015 before we see it as a usable facility, but all the progress will begin, getting the fields ready, turning it into a playable space,” Lewis said. “We’ve got infrastructure to put in as far as electric and plumbing, and those sorts of things, so we’ll be working on getting that done this year.”
Ultimately, the facility will have a lighted ball field, a parking lot, bathroom facilities, a concession stand and other features.
Lewis plans to uphold a promise to spend specified hours at Havelock City Hall to make himself available to residents.
“I will be instituting office hours in the next week or two,” Lewis said. “The city clerk and I are just trying to decide which days are the best for them, the businesses and for me. I’ll have office hours every week so that any citizen who wants can come in and talk to me about any issue and they will be regular hours every week on the same day.”
Lewis said the city staff is working on putting the mayor’s calendar on the city website and would work on creating a calendar for commissioners as well.
Havelock will be working on an economic development plan idesigned to look at Cherry Point but also beyond the base to explore economic diversity.
Family Dollar plans an 8,320 square-foot store next to Friendly Pawn on West Main Street, and DPD Concrete is opening a plant with a 1,860 square-foot building on a lot at the Havelock Industrial Park off Fontana Boulevard.
Meanwhile, Advance Auto on East Main Street is expected to relocate to a 6,732 square-foot store at the corner of South Jackson Drive and the service road.
Baldree’s Tire is expected to relocate next to Mario’s Pizza to make room for CVS Pharmacy, which has plans to move its store in the Westbrooke Shopping Center into a new 11,700 square-foot building at the corner of U.S. 70 and Catawba Road.