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Cumberland planning to build homeless shelter

Cape Fear Valley Health has expressed interest in partnering with Cumberland County on a proposed homeless shelter.

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Editor's note: This story has been corrected. Cumberland County is planning to build a homeless shelter, but the number of beds has not been determined.

Cape Fear Valley Health has expressed its intent to partner with Cumberland County to build a homeless shelter, County Manager Amy Cannon said.

During a special meeting Monday, the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners heard an update on a request for a proposal for an owner's representative in its search for a location for the planned homeless shelter.

The county wants to find an agent who will represent the board in this effort.

The county previously advertised for bids and there was no response, Cannon said. It has been readvertised, with the second round of bids due Friday.

“We wanted some feedback,” Cannon said.

Cannon said members of the board are scheduled to tour a Durham rescue mission on April 2 to see what works and what doesn’t at that facility. The trip will give commissioners an opportunity to tour a facility similar to the one proposed for Cumberland County, county spokesman Loren Bymer said after the meeting.

Commissioner Jimmy Keefe said the county's project is similar to what the city and Manna Church have partnered on with the recently opened Manna Dream Center men’s shelter.

“Dream Center. Dream Center. Dream Center. When it opened, it became a men’s shelter,” Keefe said. “It looks like what we’re trying to do."

Keefe asked his fellow commissioners, "How big will this center be?"

The county has not determined the capacity for the shelter.

“At the end of the day, we don’t have enough beds for the homeless,” said Toni Stewart, the board’s vice chairwoman.

“We don’t need to build bigger than we need,” Keefe said, “and we don’t want to build too small.”

Chairman Glenn Adams then inquired, “Who’s going to use this? That’s another problem.”

No action was taken.

Sewer service for Shaw Heights 

In other business, the board discussed a sanitary sewer project in the Shaw Heights area. The area is at Murchison Road (N.C. 87 and N.C. 210) and Shaw Road.

“The Shaw Heights area is a historically underserved community in the Greater Fayetteville and Cumberland County Area,” reads a memorandum from the board’s American Rescue Plan Committee.

Roughly 89% of the residences in Shaw Heights were built between 1949 and 1969. They utilize individual septic systems.

According to several reports from 2008 to 2021, the memorandum said, many of these septic systems have failed and required repair or have been abandoned. These septic failures are largely due to their antiquated design methods, poor soil conditions in the area, the age of the systems and a lack of proper maintenance by the homeowners.

The county said the average useful life of a septic system is 20 to 30 years while most of these systems have been in place for more than 50 years.

“A malfunctioning septic system poses a health hazard to the residents and surrounding community,” the memorandum said.

Residents of the area have been asked in numerous surveys about their concerns for the community, and a need for a sanitary sewer system was always identified within the top three items, the memorandum said.

The American Rescue Plan Committee said a gravity sanitary sewer extension connection to the Fayetteville PWC sewer was the most feasible answer and was recommended at a projected cost of $12 million, including the design. The projected average monthly bill would be $94.62 with the current projected 268 connections.

“Is the county ready to spend $12 million if the city annexes them?” Keefe asked.

That city annexation would have to be voluntary on the part of the Shaw Height residents, the commissioners were told.

Cannon said she was interested in determining if an inter-local agreement between the county, the city and the Public Works Commission is feasible where PWC would be the owner and operator of the system once it is built. The agreement also would address how or if Shaw Heights would be annexed into the city.

“We construct the system and hand it over to PWC to operate,” Cannon said.

Adams proposed that the county use grant money to build the system.

From survey through design, the project is projected to take 39 months.

No action was taken.

Cannon said it was just an update.

“We have to move forward on Shaw Heights,” Keefe said. “I’m tired of talking about it.”

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Cumberland County, Board of Commissioners, homeless center, Cape Fear Valley Health, Shaw Heights