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Cornelius News

Smithville plans include county oversight; open house today

May 11. By Dave Vieser. It was almost one year ago when Cornelius commissioners unanimously approved a financial commitment to assist in the Revitalization of the Smithville neighborhood.

“This is a policy document and it’s really important because it’s our guideline, our direction in which we intend to move for Smithville,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dave Gilroy at the time of the vote.

The historically Black neighborhood runs on the north and south side of Catawba Avenue just east of I-77. In 1980, Cornelius officially annexed the community. There is universal agreement that significant infrastructure improvements are needed to bring Smithville up to a state of good repair.

Funds for improvements are being provided by the town, county and the state, with Cornelius designating $3.4 million of American Rescue Funds and $300,000 of Community Development funds toward the desired infrastructure improvements.

The Smithville Community Coalition (SCC) was designated to play a role in the program, a move which raised concerns among some residents, with some residents signing a letter critical of reporting procedures.


Aware of those concerns, town officials said there is now an oversight process that will ensure accountability.

The Town will be improving streets, storm drainage, street trees, sidewalks and connectivity within the neighborhood, according to Deputy Town Mayor Wayne Herron. “However, none of the town funding for this work goes to the SCC. We will be managing our projects and the funding associated with the infrastructure projects,” Heron said.

Meanwhile, the state has earmarked $500,000, but the town is not really set up to handle pass-through dollars, Herron said.

He asked Mecklenburg County to handle the state funding along with the county’s ARPA and management dollars that are already being provided to Smithville Community Coalition. In fact, Mecklenburg County already has contracts and agreements in place for the SCC to request and expend funds.

The agreements call for budgets to be submitted in advance and documentation to be provided to Mecklenburg County to show how funds are being expended.

Open house today

SCC will have an open house today from 3 pm to 5:30 pm at their new office at 21031 Catawba Ave.