Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two part editorial from Stallings council member Paul Frost. The first portion ran in last week’s edition.
• Town Manager Contract Update: On January 23, the majority of Council (Stokes, Esarove, Steele and Weber) voted to extend our Town Manager’s contract for five additional years, with a one-year severance package. While I understand the majority’s desire to retain Mr. Matthews’ services, this means the taxpayers could foot a $90,000 bill if things don’t go well with the manager between now and 2017. Not only is this a big liability to the taxpayers, the terms of the contract with our manager are significantly better than the contracts with managers in Matthews, Mint Hill, and Indian Trail (all much larger towns). This was not a good example of fiscal responsibility.
• Completion of the Stallings Town Park. The Council has had misgivings about spending nearly $2.3 million (up from our original anticipated sum of $1.5 million) needed to complete the park renovations. While this is a very large expense, I voted to construct the new park for two reasons. First, we needed to take a bold step to attract desirable residents and businesses to town. Second, the park will be a wonderful destination for individuals and families in the decades to come. The Stallings Staff and Park and Recreation Committee are to be commended for their diligence and creativity to get the park built. Interesting plans are also in the works for park space near the Fairhaven community along Stevens Mill Road.
• Sidewalk connectivity for pedestrians. The Town of Stallings has a Pedestrian Plan that links neighborhoods to each other and to important destinations such as shopping and schools. Currently, too many of our citizens have no safe way to walk or bike to the store, bus stop or school. In my mind, sidewalk construction deserves a high degree of investment and attention in coming years. As part of this initiative, we need to be in closer contact with Indian Trail, Matthews, Mint Hill and county leaders.
• Stallings Sportsplex: Mayor Paxton and Councilman Dunn continue to show interest in the possibility of a Stallings-subsidized Sportsplex at the corner of Stevens Mill and Stallings Road. Since this issue came up for discussion over a year ago, I have had many conversations with youth sports specialists throughout the Charlotte region. Certainly, the Towns of Stallings and Indian Trail should cooperate with those who wish to develop additional sports facilities in this area, which adds to the quality of life in the area. But I have concerns about the Town of Stallings spending $2-3 million to purchase land for mostly private use without a clear benefit to the majority of taxpayers. But perhaps we can find a way to work with interested groups to find a “win-win” arrangement for everyone.
• Monroe Bypass and Stallings Business Association: As the Monroe Bypass is soon going to become a reality, some Stallings businesses along Independence Avenue will be impacted. We are doing what we can to help those businesses find another location within Stallings, in part by encouraging their participation in the Stallings Business Association. This group meets from time to time to network and share ideas for ways Stallings can be as business-friendly as possible.
• Transportation: Citizens and staff of Stallings and Matthews continue work on a Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP). A draft report of the CTP has been completed. Among key recommendations is the development of a light rail that would run parallel to the railroad track near Monroe Road. In my view, light rail is critical for a high quality of life in the future of the Charlotte region. The CTP also makes recommendations on developing sidewalks and bike paths along key corridors. Other positive transportation-related developments are that momentum continues to build for the eventual widening of Monroe Road through Stallings, as well as the widening of the intersection of Pleasant Plains and Potter (which could begin as soon as 2013). While the Town will need to help pay for these expansions, they will bring many benefits to our residents and the surrounding area.
In conclusion, I look forward to working productively with members of Council and Staff throughout 2012. While we may not always agree on the issues, I am confident in our ability to cooperate to find solutions that will benefit of the citizens of Stallings. Please contact me for feedback or suggestions. We need to hear from you.