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Hope Mills board gets update on projects

Commissioners say they want to see current projects completed before adding new ones


HOPE MILLS - The Hope Mills Board of Commissioners was told Monday that challenges related to the pandemic and other issues could impact projects planned for the town.  

 The board received an update on projects during a special meeting to discuss budget priorities prior to the 2022-23 budget preparation. 

 The meeting also served as a preview to the budget retreat scheduled for March and as an instructional tool for new Commissioners Grilley Mitchell and Joanne Scarola. 

 “My reasoning for getting together is so that Commissioner Scarola and I as duly elected officials can get caught up to speed with you all (the board) and so that we can move forward together,’’ Mitchell said. 

 He said he wanted a better understanding of the projects that have been accomplished and the projects that are planned. The commissioners viewed the Capital Improvement Plan from 2020 and 2021, which runs until June 30.   

 Mitchell asked for an update on projects already on the books. “I want to know where we are now, and where we are going,” he said.  

 Mitchell said it has been his experience that projects may be affected by inflation and supply and demand. 

 “As we know, there has been an increase in cost in materials and labor,’’ Mitchell said. “So that makes some things in this plan obsolete.” 

 Mitchell asked Town Manager Scott Meszaros to provide frequent reports from department heads so the commissioners can stay abreast of projects and make clear and accurate decisions going forward.  

 “Help us help you,” Mitchell told Meszaros.  

 Department heads Kenny Tatum and Lamarco Morrison also talked about the impact that unexpected variables and delays can have on projects. Board members also heard about challenges due to the economy and to the lack of adequate “as-built’’ plans. Both are issues that have caused some budgeted projects to now be financially out-of-sync. 

 Tatum, the town’s chief building inspector, and Morrison, the head of Parks and Recreation, told board members the town lacks “as-built’’ documents for many of the town’s buildings. An “as-built’’ document is a detailed plan that includes things such as dimensions, lines, materials and costs related to projects once they are completed. It allows future contractors or other building professionals to have a detailed account of the project. 

 “Many of the town’s as-built documents date back to the 1980s,” Tatum said. 

 A lack of documents can mean costly guesswork. Those lack of details have contributed to the delays with the splash pad, Morrison told the board.   

 The Department of Parks and Recreation has been working the last few years to bring a splash pad to the town. The department discovered the sewer lines were inadequate to build the splash pad, leading to more delays and more expenses. The town will have to install a secondary water line in order to complete the project. 

 “We need as-built plans,” Morrison told the board. “You start digging in a park and you don’t know there’s a sewer line there … because we don’t have accurate as-built plans.”  

 The town will now have to pay a surveyor to locate those lines, Morrison said.

Meszaros told the board it has 14 active projects that are funded or are going to be funded. 

“We really can’t work on these things until they are funded,’’ he said. “There’s a lot of moving parts.”

“Are we doing a better job on the projects we haven’t funded yet? Because if the targets are moving, we’ll never have enough money to complete them,” Mayor Jackie Warner asked Meszaros.  

Mitchell told Meszaros: “The key is to have an understanding of where we are now, so we aren’t backtracking. I want us to move forward and have a clear-cut vision so we can move on.” 

The other members of the board nodded their heads in agreement.   

Commissioner Jerry Legge said he would like to bring bus routes to the town. 

“You won’t believe how people in Hope Mills don’t have transportation,’’ Legge said. “I see that on a regular basis. Madam Mayor, I want to talk about that when it’s time for the budget.”  

However, board members unanimously said they want what’s already planned to be accomplished before taking on new projects and they want better communication about ongoing projects so they can stay in front of issues.  

Warner praised the board for its unity and expressed her excitement about going forward.  

“They’re not wanting new projects… they want some of these that can be done, completed,” she said. 

Jason Canady covers Hope Mills for CityViewTODAY. He can be reached at jcanady@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Hope Mills, Board of Commissioners, projects, economy, planning