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Cornelius News

Smithville revitalization plan appears to be gaining ground

REDEVELOPMENT | By Dave Vieser

April 21. The Smithville Revitalization Plan calls for workforce housing, rehabilitation of existing properties and subdividing some properties in the historically Black community just east of I-77. The plans took a big step forward in March when $3 million in support was approved by the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners.

The Smithville Community Coalition is asking the Town for $6.6 million in American Rescue Act funds as well as seven parcels owned by the town, valued at $425,000.

The town’s American Rescue Plan funds arrived at an ideal time to help with the Smithville revitalization plan which has been years in the making.

The Planning Board, Park Board and Mayor’s Housing Committee have all recommended approval of the plan.

Town Commissioner Denis Bilodeau said the Smithville plan addresses many of the community’s short- and long-term needs.

DENIS BILODEAU

“I am in favor of matching the County‘s contribution as well as ceding Town-owned property back to the community,” Bilodeau said, explaining that $3 million of Town funds will go a long way towards addressing Smithville’s infrastructure issues.

County share, vs. Town

The question at this point is how much of the $6.6 million Smithville will receive. The answer likely lies somewhere between $3 million and $6.6 million, commissioners said privately.

Town Commissioner Colin Furcht said he is grateful that Mecklenburg County is chipping in.

“I’ve never felt that the Town should shoulder the lion’s share of the project but I do feel we have a responsibility to assist,” Furcht said.

Furcht

But if the full amounts that were requested are not approved, Furcht hopes that the project “can still move forward in part for now.”

“I don’t think it all needs to be approved today but I do want to see as many revenue opportunities considered to help move this forward. We have several very important requests for funding—police and fire being at the top of my list,” he said.

The plan also includes workforce housing that would target police, firefighters and teachers.

“I would love to see more opportunities for folks to live and work here. I’m not sure there is a simple fix to this ongoing and very complex issue,” Furcht said.

What comes next?

The Cornelius Town Board has established a review process for the final draft of the plan. Thus far it has received thumbs up from the town Planning Board.

The coalition’s plan will continue to wind its way through several town committees, ending with the Town Board which must adopt next year’s budget by July 1.

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