State says mayor misinterpreted conversations about Old Monroe Road
The state of North Carolina can’t fully fund widening Old Monroe Road within the next seven years, without financial support. That was the response from the North Carolina Department of Transportation Thursday, Nov. 3 , after comments by Indian Trail Mayor John Quinn. During a meeting at the town’s civic building Tuesday, Nov. 1, Quinn told residents that the town didn’t need the $10 million road bonds, to be voted on Nov. 8, as he heard from NCDOT officials the project would get done on the same timeframe, with no money required.
“I’ve been told the plan is in place, with or without town money,” Quinn said, adding he doubted the state would fund one part of the widening project, only to leave the rest half finished.
“They can’t in good conscience do that,” Quinn said.
Division 10 engineer Barry Moose, whose area includes Mecklenburg and Union counties, said he did have a conversation with the mayor, but never promised funding the entire Monroe Road project within the next few years with state money.
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 portion stretching from Interstate 485 to Indian Trail Road. The state doesn’t have the money to cover the last part, from Indian Trail Road to Wesley Chapel Stouts Road, on their own, Moose said.
“I do feel it’s a critical section, but as far as state funding goes, timing would be a question mark,” Moose said. “We’re working with scarce resources. That would be something we would fund, but we don’t know when.”
Without assistance, Moose said, it would be 2018 before the state could provide help. Additionally, in order to receive state funding, Moose said the town would have to get the widening labeled as a priority project by the Mecklenburg Union Metropolitan Planning Organization.
“It’s like buying a car,” Moose said. “If you want a car that costs $20,000 but only have $10,000 in the bank, you either have to wait until you save up enough or get help from someone else.”
Meeting called to address two year old ban
Originally, Quinn called the town council meeting to get answers as to what evidence council members had regarding his ban from the non public areas of town hall in 2009. He was the only council member to show, as the other members said they had plans each couldn’t cancel.
Council member Gary D’Onofrio, one of two council members who were in office and voted for the ban, said there was no conspiracy, then or now.
“I hold the mayor to the same standards I do,” D’Onofrio said. “I communicate directly to the town manager, Joe Fivas, exclusively and I have never needed access to non-public areas of the town hall. Why he feels entitled to these liberties is beyond explanation.”
In 2009, the town council voted to prevent the mayor from entering the offices of town staff, requiring him to work with staff through the town manager. Quinn requested to know what triggered the change and at the time, the council said it was because of staff members who felt harassed.
Two years later, Quinn called the special meeting, wanting again to know why he was banned from the offices in town hall.
Council member Roger Stanton said he had a meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. and couldn’t get it changed.
“I had this scheduled for two weeks and couldn’t move it,” Stanton said. “We looked at different days but the only day everyone could meet was Tuesday.” Stanton said he would have been able to attend if Quinn had moved the meeting to Wednesday, as requested by staff.
Stanton also added that he hadn’t gone back and reviewed tapes of the meeting, when Quinn was banned and didn’t feel right forming an opinion until he had all the facts.
Council member Robert Allen said he had a class on Tuesday and Wednesday to attend, while members Jeff Goodall and D’Onofrio refused to attend, saying they were tired of political games and accusations of conspiracies.
“It deeply saddens me that Mr. Quinn thinks all these individuals have conspired against him personally because they do not like him or there is some huge overarching conspiracy,” D’Onofrio said.
Council woman Darlene Luther said since she heard from multiple members they weren’t attending, she didn’t see the point to show up for a meeting that would have to be canceled anyway.
“I had a desire to see myself vindicated from these allegations,” Quinn said. “They’ve avoided every opportunity to be open and honest about that.”
Due to lack of a quorum, the official meeting never took place Tuesday night. Instead, after town staff members went home, the mayor spoke with local residents on a number of topics, mostly relating to the upcoming election. Residents, including current council candidate David Waddell and mayoral candidate Michael Alvarez spoke, arguing that the council members should have shown up to answer questions.
“Any person who knows they’re right would show up and defend themselves,” Alvarez said.
Arguments continued throughout the meeting on a number of topics, ranging from a police department for the town to the need to support or reject the bonds.
In defense of her dad, Roger Stanton’s daughter Jacklyn spoke to the crowd, asking them to stop making judgments based on heresay.
“I know you all don’t agree with him, but you’re talking about the person I look up to, you’re talking about my hero,” Jacklyn Stanton said. “I don’t like politics. To see how rude people are to my dad, they don’t know him, they don’t know what he goes through. I do.”