LAURINBURG — Angry residents expressed objections to a new City Hall in no uncertain terms to the Laurinburg City Council Tuesday night.
With a limited public comment period and speakers given no more than three minutes each, there was time enough for 10 people to speak – all of whom opposed putting upwards of $11 million into constructing a municipal building.
“A new City Hall is absurd,” said Connie Barber. “Are you blind? We can vote you out and we will.”
The standing-room only crowd made the council chambers sound like a lively church service at times, with “amens” and loud responses to what residents were saying.
Businessman Jimmy Watts said he was embarrassed by the city’s actions.
“I’m ashamed of the same people sitting on this board over and over and over. Nothing gets done,” Watts said, criticizing the council for its spending.
“We have kids that’s got nothing else to do but sit out here and play with gangs, get out here and sell drugs. I see it every day in my store business. Why can’t we spent $1.1 million trying to build some swimming pools for the summer months for these lower income families. Why can’t we get out here and invest in jobs.”
Resident Cathy Durant agreed.
“We’ve got plenty of empty buildings,” Durant said. “Use them.”
In keeping with its policy, the council did not answer back to the criticisms and questions, but listened.
The Rev. Michael Edds said the city did a good job on the arts park and suggested it approach the municipal complex from a similar standpoint, by forging partnerships. Edds, like others, said there would be consequences on Election Day.
“God put you in this position on election day and so did we,” Edds said.
Mike Schmidt, a Laurinburg attorney, asked that instead of building a City Hall, the city use any available money to increase police pay by 30 percent and double the number of officers.
“It’s highly questionable, and will actually defeat our ability to borrow money when and if we need it,” Schmidt. “There’s something wrong with this country when the representatives don’t truly represent the people. We don’t want this mess.”
James Garby presented a petition with nearly 2,400 signatures of people opposed to the project.
At press time, city officials were getting a report from a consultanting firm to help determine if construction was feasible. The Laurinburg Exchange will provide a full report on Thursday.
Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-506-3169.