Council considers multiple options
Would Indian Trail residents be willing to support a bond measure, if it means expanding Old Monroe Road or adding things like a splash pad to the town’s park system? The town council hopes to put that question to voters this November, with a referendum on the ballot. During their Tuesday, May 24 meeting, the council discussed options for the referendum, including the proposed price of the bond and what it could be used on.
“The nice thing about all of this is its up to the people what to do,” Councilman Gary D’Onofrio said. He pointed to results from the town survey earlier this year, where residents said they wanted less congestion on the roads and a park system.
When asked if they would help fund traffic improvements, through a possible $24 million bond vote, 62 percent of those surveyed said they were at least somewhat likely to vote yes. Of that number, 31 percent were very likely to approve the measure.
Additionally, In the survey 63 percent of residents said they would be willing to fund a $3 million bond to create a neighborhood park system.
Those results helped shape the referendum discussion, with four potential items being considered, including parks, street construction, sidewalk construction and traffic congestion. The town council has a month to decide if they want to include one of the four or a combination, when they ask if residents support a $17 to $20 million bond in November.
“To put something out on parks and not on traffic maybe sends the wrong signal,” D’Onofrio said, pointing out that the mentality of saying the state will pay for road construction hasn’t exactly worked in the past.
Currently, widening Monroe Road to four lanes is estimated to cost between $55 to $60 million. There’s $22.5 million in state funds, allocated by Indian Trail and neighboring Stallings to pay for the 6.5-mile project, stretching from Interstate 485 to Wesley Chapel-Stouts Road. The additional funds from a bond measure would help the project move further on. In the town survey, citizens said the number one thing they wanted was less congestion, with 53 percent asking for improvements.
Potential economic development was highlighted by council member Darlene Luther as another reason to put the bond question to voters.
“We’ve been told there have been (businesses) interested, but their business plan doesn’t allow for a two lane road,” Luther said.
The problem, other council members cautioned, is that if voters approve a bond measure, they expect to see results. Monroe Road wouldn’t start construction until 2017, when the state funds become available.
“The road (situation) is much more complex,” Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Goodall said, suggesting the town knock out an easier project first, by focusing on the park system.
A splash pad would be one of the amenities potentially paid for by the bond, along with athletic fields.
Council members asked staff to research what the costs and debt service would look like for a $17 to $20 million bond, to be presented at their next meeting in June. In order to get on the ballot for this November, the referendum question has to be sent in to the state by June 28.