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City Council approves DOT contract

ELIZABETH HEFFNER
Staff Writer

Lincolnton’s City Council unanimously approved a project agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation at their meeting Thursday night that would begin improvements to the intersection of East Main Street and Generals Boulevard.
According to City Manager Jeff Emory, the city has been working on preparations for this project for over two years. The project would entail making improvements to the intersection including “completion of the sidewalk system, high visibility crosswalks, pedestrian refuge islands, countdown timers and replacement of the existing wood traffic signal poles and span wire with steel poles and mast arms.”
Over the past two years, the city has requested and received two CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality) grant for the improvement of this intersection.
“The total amount of approved CMAQ funding for the project is $581,250, including $465,000 in federal funds and $116,250 in local match,” Emory said.
In addition, Emory stated that on several occasions, NCDOT has verbally agreed to offer an additional $100,000 to cover the milling and repaving costs. He continued, stating that while NCDOT has declined to make a written agreement regarding this funding presently, the conversations between city staff members and NCDOT have been recorded in detail.
“I will stress that the CMAQ grant funding is for improving pedestrian safety, and staff is recommending that we complete this project.”
City council member Dr. John Cloninger made the motion to approve the project agreement with NCDOT.
“Since it’s an 80-20 grant, and it’s more or less the gateway to Lincolnton, I believe we absolutely need to improve it,” he said.
However, not all councilmen were as eager to move forward with the proposed agreement as Cloninger. During the discussion, city council member Devin Rhyne asked Emory and City Attorney TJ Wilson to flesh out some of the project’s proposed provisions regarding improvement maintenance as well as the city’s financial contribution to the project.
At the conclusion of the discussion, Rhyne stated that while he has voted against this improvement project at council meetings in the past, he believes that being able to utilize the Powell Bill makes the project more palatable.
City Council has also opted to move into a contract with Centralina Council of Governments regarding facilitation assistance with developing Lincolnton’s Strategic Plan.
According to a memo from Jim Prosser, Centralina Council of Governments’ Executive Director, the strategic planning facilitation service is “a process to assist local government boards (in setting) clear, realistic short-term and long-term goals that support their vision and mission, and define strategic action steps and resources necessary to implement those strategies.”
The Times-News previously reported on City Council’s Sept. 27 special called meeting, which focused on identifying key issues the councilmen would like to improve through a long-term strategic plan. At this meeting, council members decided upon four initiatives that would develop a Downtown Lincolnton and Main Street vision, focus on offering a “customer-focused, cost-efficient and productive city” to residents, creating a comprehensive industrial recruitment plan and developing a Human Relations Council to promote diversification in the city’s workforce and improve communication across the board.
During his presentation, Centralina Council of Governments Facilitator Bob Henderson explained that their strategic planning facilitation process would consist of gathering information through individual interviews with council members, acquiring public input and facilitating a day-long retreat to help the council identify their shared and top priorities for Lincolnton. The $2,500 service would also include follow-up reporting as well as post-event meetings or consultations, if necessary.
City Council will next meet at 7 p.m. on Oct. 2 at City Hall for a regularly scheduled monthly meeting.
Pick up a copy of the Monday, Sept. 8 edition of the Lincoln Times-News for more details.

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