Staff photo by Cole Dittmer
Wilmington City Council accepted $222,152 in funds from the North Carolina Department of Transportation to complete the Military Cutoff Road Trail, running from the Gordon Road intersection to Eastwood Road and connecting with the Gary Shell Cross City Trail.
City votes to increase transparency
To continue the Military Cutoff Road Trail completed in 2008 that runs along the eastern side of the road from Gordon Road to Drysdale Drive, Wilmington City Council accepted $222,152 at its Tuesday, Jan. 7 meeting.
With the acceptance of the North Carolina Department of Transportation funds from the Transportation Alternative Program, the city is obligated to contribute a match totaling $75,283.
The remaining stretch of trail to Eastwood Road is 1,500 feet and Wilmington superintendent of parks and downtown services Amy Beatty said the most difficult aspect of the project would be acquiring seven easements needed along the route.
Beatty said the project has yet to reach the design phase but, once completed, the roughly 2-mile trail would connect to the Gary Shell Cross City Trail, running east through the intersection of Eastwood and Military Cutoff roads.
As a result of the latest round of discussions on government transparency that took place at city council’s annual retreat on Friday, Nov. 22, the Lord Spencer Compton Conference Room in City Hall will be outfitted for audio recording meetings and live streaming. The room serves as the meeting place for city council’s agenda briefings, which take place Monday mornings prior to a regularly scheduled city council meeting and are open to the public.
At its Jan. 7 meeting, the resolution to transfer $14,750 from the City Council Contingency Account to the city’s General Fund was approved by a vote of 5-2, with Councilmen Charlie Rivenbark and Neil Anderson dissenting.
Anderson said it was not his intention to spend money for recording and streaming the briefings he previously asked to streamline.
“Before someone says I’m against transparency there are 40 people in that room every Monday, press is there and it is an open meeting so anyone can attend and I am not going to support this,” Anderson said.
Rivenbark said he could either vote for or against the new technology, but the real issue with the agenda briefings was that councilmembers decide how they are going to vote based on the briefing discussions.
“I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say, ‘oh you guys just rubber stamp everything,’ and that is because minds have been made up … outside [City Hall Council Chambers] and that is just not how we should do business,” Rivenbark said. “I don’t believe in the agenda briefings.”
Councilman Earl Sheridan did not think Rivenbark’s perception of minds being made up during agenda briefings was correct but, like Mayor Pro Tem Margaret Haynes, Sheridan said he would support the streaming of the meetings for transparency.
“I too am kind of sad we are spending money on this, but in the name of transparency I will support it,” Sheridan said.
Councilwoman Laura Padgett said she thought the funds required were well worth the public being able to listen to agenda briefings online to hear the discussions taking place prior to regular meetings.