City endorses downtown art garden

LAURINBURG — Laurinburg’s new community development director has wasted no time in generating ideas for sprucing up the city’s sorest spots.

On Tuesday, the city council endorsed a proposal by Teddy Warner, who was hired by the city this spring, for a “City of Laurinburg Art Garden” for installation on the empty lot formerly inhabited by Branch’s service station.

“The community has really kind of jumped on this,” Warner said. “It came from the Arts Council and a number of people that discussed how we can incorporate art into our downtown culture.”

Warner floated the project as a set of landscaped walkways through an array of large sculptures created by graduate students in the University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s art programs.

“We envision a curved sidewalk so you can walk through and see art, professional landscaping, irrigation,” he said. “The beautification team would maintain this.”

The initial cost could vary from $20,000 to $40,000 with an annual cost of $6,000 to provide students with supplies. Warner said that design may be donated as a pro bono project.

“The designs are still in the works. As of right now, to have a professional design done is going to be pretty expensive.”

Council also approved to match a $4,000 Electricities grant for beautification in low income neighborhoods.

Warner said that the funds will be used to clear a city lot at the corner of Anne Street and Lee’s Mill Road and plant 150 fruit trees. The orchard will ideally be maintained by the community, who will be free to enjoy its bounty.

That money will also provide for the planting of 50 trees along North Main Street near the Lee’s Mill Road fork.

“I’m glad to see that you’re doing something on the north side of town, especially in that area,” said council member J.D. Willis. “That’s a deprived area. It will give hope and it will show the people over there that live in that area that the council is thinking about them as well as the other parts of the city.”

In other business, City Manager Charles Nichols recommended against adoption of a golf cart ordinance, as requested by a city resident last month, due to liability issues that would arise in permitting golf carts to be driven on city streets.

“In a vehicle that is not designed to be on the road, it doesn’t have the same safety standards,” said city attorney Bill Floyd. “Even if we have a waiver of liability, the waiver of liability would only apply to the person that owns the golf cart and has it licensed with the city. It wouldn’t apply to a passenger, it wouldn’t apply to the people that were in the other car that maybe that golf cart struck.”

Nichols also informed council that a selection committee composed of city council members and staff selected Creech and Associates, PLLC of Charlotte from the three architecture firms interviewed for the design of a new city hall.

“This is where we start negotiating contracts and fees and things like that,” Nichols said. “They’ve done a lot of the new ones around Charlotte — they’ve done Mint Hill and are in the process of doing Indian Trail … we wanted somebody who’s done a lot of them since we don’t really have a staff member that can oversee it.”

In other business on Tuesday, council:

— Approved waiver of water and sewer tapping fees for a fire substation to be constructed on Purcell Road, which will serve the south end of the county. The construction itself will be funded by the county fire tax.

— Heard from MBA students at St. Andrews University about a capital improvement plan drafted by the class as a capstone project.

Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.

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