Visitor’s center, parks top desired projects downtown

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The city of Wilmington’s Waterfront Development Plan took another step forward with the release of the top projects identified by citizens and city staff. City of Wilmington hosted the second public meeting in the completion of the plan Tuesday, Jan. 27, which was attended by roughly 20 members of the public.

After citizens were polled during the first meeting Dec. 8, the top five projects identified by both citizens and city staff were Phase I of Riverfront Park along Water Street, North Waterfront Park, a new visitor’s center and public restrooms, renovation of Chestnut and Grace streets west of Front Street, and a possible replacement of the visitor’s center.

The city is partnering with the not-for-profit Resource Institute, Inc. of Winston-Salem in developing the plan.

Resource Institute project coordinator Charles Anderson said the next step would be to assign price tags to each project and determine the economic impact of each one. Resource Institute primarily helps organizations with project assistance and determining funding sources, and Anderson said the city has identified a large number of projects for the waterfront region over the years.

“We are integrators; people come to us for help and we integrate the entire project as far as funding, technical resources, construction and management,” Anderson said. “There has been a lot of information over the years the city has developed … and I see what they are trying to do but it is a lot of work, a lot of projects and a lot of funding, so how do we encapsulate all that under one roof?”

While there were 30 projects included in the Waterfront Development Plan, Wilmington Deputy City Manager Tony Caudle said the team would focus on the top handful of projects that are economically feasible.

“The price tag on these projects is substantial and trying to find money at any level of government is tough,” Caudle said. “We are trying to match the top priority projects with what could fit.”

Wilmington City Councilman Kevin O’Grady said the list of top projects identified aligned with what the city has wanted to accomplish, especially the Riverfront Park section from the foot of Market Street to Princess Street.

After the project costs and economic benefits are determined, Anderson said the Waterfront Development Plan should be in front of city council by March. If approved by city council, the next step would be to secure funding for the projects, which Anderson said could come from “anywhere and everywhere.”

email cole@luminanews.com 

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