- Published on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 22:39
- Written by Super User
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
I've noticed lately the current Carolina Beach Town Council is quick to talk about their plans to take on large infrastructure projects and question the knowledge of previous administrations (all without naming names) about their historic lack of attention or foresight towards improving infrastructure in our Town.
That's a serious slant. More plainly put, "Whose version of history..."
Recently Mayor Bob Lewis talked about plans to rehab and replace aging water and sewer lines in a large portion of the residential areas west of Lake Park Blvd as well as putting in a new well, a new secondary sewer force main, replacing a water storage tank and upgrading and replacing meters to permit automated meter reading.
Around $13 million in multiple phases.
Lewis explained, "We are pushing as fast as we can because money is cheap right now. That's number one. Number two, the meters, we actually got a zero interest loan from the feds and there is some other clean water stuff out there that we can apply for as we move forward on these projects."
He said, "The idea of this thing is... the old philosophy, the way they looked at it before in former administration was, we'll do a street at a time, we'll eventually get there and in about 20 years we will have it all replaced, 25 years. The problem is the cost will be five times what it is today, maybe ten times, because the interest rates will be just beyond just what you're gonna get and the cost to do it." He said, "Today it’s all about speed to get it done to take advantage of low rates or zero rates, move forward with the projects" and really not have to raise water and sewer rates.
That's excellent. Do the project while not having to dip into the taxpayers’ wallets. Outstanding.
But let's look at what past administrations did. Not an all inclusive list, just some highlights. A former administration led by Mayor Ray Rothrock and Council members Gary Doetsch, Dennis Barbour, Pat Efird and Joel Macon, all worked together with their Town Manger at the time, Calvin Peck, to secure federal FEMA grant funding to relocate the police station and fire station, from a disastrous flood zone across from the Town marina to higher ground.
That building now serves as our Town Hall and Police Department on North Lake Park Blvd. Prior to that, every time there was a hurricane, the older building (now a parking lot) would flood nearly to the ceiling pushing our Fire Department and police to garages at residential homes.
That same administration also secured grant funding to replace all of the sewer lines on Carolina Beach Avenue North and Canal Drive to reduce rain water infiltration into those lines causing a burden upon our treatment plant off Dow Road and the lift stations that pump that sewer flow.
Both of those projects were proactive towards improving our infrastructure and a more stable Town Hall building and related operations.
Their foresight to build a Town Hall larger than required at the time proved to help this current administration to accommodate even more employees when finding a new home for the offices of the Operations Department. That need was born from previous administrations utilizing U.S. Army Land off Dow Road in many ways outside of a 1970's lease simply because the Army never kept track over the years and over the course of numerous administrations the Town kept expanding the usage of that property outside of what was originally permitted. At one time a previous administration asked for permission to use the property for something other than a wastewater treatment plant and was denied. Did it anyway. But this Council is dealing with the problem because the Army finally came over and inspected the area.
Major improvements to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk started taking shape when former Councilman Dan Wilcox was elected to Town Council. The ice was broken between property owners and the Town and the area began seeing major aesthetic improvements that the current administration continues to enjoy. And the current administration vocally has a mission to continue to build upon that mission of improving the boardwalk, downtown area infrastructure and parks and recreation amenities. Mayor Bob Lewis has been pushing for financial support from the County for additional park amenities at the Boardwalk.
The point of this editorial is not to take sides from one administration to the next over the years. It's true, every administration has their pros and cons and the quality of their respective accomplishments from one to the other vary depending on the issues they are confronted with. It's an excellent move by the current administration to embark on an over $13 million dollar infrastructure project to replace and rehab aging water and sewer lines in the older residential areas of Town west of Lake Park Blvd.
They claim that now is the time to undertake such a project because money has never been as cheap based on low interest rates. Keep in mind, six or ten years ago, were the interest rates the same? Perhaps now is an ideal time to undertake such projects verses years ago when financing situations were not as ideal and projects had to be done on a smaller scale.
Perhaps that would explain why former administrations did not try, or could not obtain, the same favorable financing terms as the current administration enjoys. Perhaps another way of looking at this topic is, former administrations were capable of making a lot of their own improvements under different conditions.