This is the video of the December 3rd meeting, posted by the Town of Hope Mills. There are many relevant points and I’ll be posting about those at a later date. For now, We’re going to focus on 2 key issues.
Issue 1 – Roughly 11 minutes into the video, Mayor Warner announces a presentation by Ted Cole of Davenport and Co. Mr. Cole addressed the board for more than 40 minutes. He explained in great detail the process the board would follow to establish a bond to finance some of the parks and recreational development on the agenda for 2019.
The ramifications –
In simplest terms, a bond referendum is similar to a home improvement loan. It’s a lengthy process which would require audits of the town’s financial history and current standing. If the board chooses to move forward with a bond, it would be placed on the ballot for the next election and the public would vote on it. The town would have to disclose, that if they’re unable to pay the loan back, they will raise taxes.
Issue 2 – 3 hours and 34 minutes into the video you’ll hear Town Manager Melissa Adams begin her manager’s report…she announces she’s already begun to negotiate with Cumberland County to take over our parks and recreation department.
On November 29 Melissa Adams met with the Cumberland County Manager Amy Cannon, and the Assistant Manager Tracy Jackson. This was an initial contact meeting, at which Adams let the county know the town is interested in relinquishing control of parks and recreation back to the county.
Cannon and Jackson have requested detailed financial reports at a January meeting. Specifically, they want to know what kind of revenue and expenses derive from youth sports and special events.
Adams was very clear when she told the board – the county, and by default the City of Fayetteville, do NOT want to be responsible for our special events.
‘There was a very strong indication from Cannon they would not want to take over events such as the July 4th parade, the Christmas parade, special events that we’ve had down at the lake, Ole Mill Days, the food truck rodeos…they don’t consider those parks and recreation events,” Melissa Adams.
The ramifications –
During the November 5th BOC meeting, Mayor Warner discussed a Mayor’s Coalition meeting she attended on November 2nd…and the number of complaints from area mayors regarding their struggle to get funding from Fayetteville. They have to submit requisition orders to Fayetteville for anything they want. They have to wade through legal and financial paperwork for months, sometimes years, before their requests are granted, IF they’re granted.
If Hope Mills relinquished control to Fayetteville, not only would we forfeit control of the existing recreation and the development of future recreation, but we’d be forfeiting our special events. When we forfeit parks and rec. to the city, we also forfeit the tax revenue we use to fund those programs. That money would go to Fayetteville and we would have zero control over how Fayetteville uses it.
Remember, McAdams Group was contracted by this board to develop a comprehensive master plan at a cost of $87,000. That plan is a prerequisite for applying for grants to develop land. McAdams Group is scheduled to deliver the final results of their work in April.
Also remember, this board voted in November to retrofit the existing golf cart path into a walking trail. Town employees have already begun to clear limbs and fallen vegetation, but the project is expected to cost tax payers at least $150,000 before it’s completed, also in April.
Several months ago I had a conversation with Michael Seals who works for Fayetteville’s Parks and Recreation program. Seals said the city has disassociated from all youth associations. Which means this move would likely put an end to the Hope Mills Youth Association. He also said Fayetteville disassociated with formal baseball organizations like Dixie Youth Baseball and Little league. Hope Mills has a longstanding relationship with Dixie Youth Baseball and because of that relationship we have a stellar reputation in the world of youth baseball. It’s unlikely Fayetteville would continue that relationship for our town since they don’t pay for it themselves.
Hope Mills doesn’t have an industry. We attract residents because we have a thriving parks and recreation program, arguably the best in the county. And we attract people to our quaint events. The committee that designed the lakeside celebration this past July has split the event into two separate celebrations for 2019, one would be held in March and one in July. Old Mill days has been growing for the last four years and expanding to include a pageant, a cheer competition, a street dance, and relationships with Big T’s and Fort Bragg. Our food truck rodeos affect thousands of people. Each month two slots are reserved for local restaurant owners, and each event is designed to raise funds for a local charity or provide goods for those in need.
Without tax money we receive for parks and recreation, there would be no funding for these events. The municipality would have to find ways to monetize events which have always been free, or cancel those events permanently.
Giving control of our parks and recreation has another side effect…because it would belong to the county, it would be open to the county. Our lake, our walking trails, our youth sports, would all be rolled under the umbrella of Fayetteville assets and advertised as such. Residents of Hope Mills could find themselves in a situation where they can’t enjoy the lake, because the parking lots are full of Fayetteville residents. Your children may not be able to play sports here in our back yard because the teams are full of children from outlying communities.
This is a post from Commissioner Larson’s Facebook page. It’s dated October 23. Less than 2 weeks after she posted this article, she made the motion to use the golf course as a walking trail.
Is this board considering the big picture? Were they considering it when they voted to create a walking trail half a mile from our existing walking trail and permanently alter the McAdams Group plan? And what about the enormous potential in this land and other land Hope Mills hoped to develop? If we forfeit our parks and recreation control and funding to Fayetteville, what happens to that potential? Or are they planning to incur millions of dollars of debt to develop the land grant money would develop? The only consistency, is in their inconsistency.
The elected are stewards of our assets and have a responsibility to their constituency. They reversed a decision by the previous board to develop phase II of the lake and spent a full year and thousands of dollars on revisions…and as of today, we still do not have a plan. We also don’t have the funds to develop a plan…they spent most of that money on another project. They contracted with McAdams to develop a master plan which would allow us to get grant money to develop projects, like the golf course, then ignored the expert advice and fecklessly chose to create a walking trail which is redundant, excessively expensive and not a priority for any member of this community. They’re rejected partnerships which would have allowed us to develop recreation land, they’ve insulted economic development experts and now…they simply want to give our programs away.
If you have questions, comments or concerns, contact the board…
Jackie Warner – Mayor
Office Phone: 910-426-4117
Cell Phone: 910-309-7779
Home Phone: 910-424-0030
4333 Legion Road
Hope Mills, NC 28348
Pat Edwards – Commissioner
PO Box 746
Hope Mills, NC 28348
Jerry Legge – Commissioner
6432 Bretton Woods Drive
Hope Mills, NC 28348