Leland officials retreat on long-term plans

-A A +A
By Brian Slattery

SURF CITY — Leland officials spent the last day of February at the coast sharing ideas about plans for the town.

The mayor, commissioners and town manager and clerk met at the Surf City Welcome Center for a daylong planning retreat.

After hosting a five-town hearing last fall on a proposed change to the sales tax distribution, the town representatives talked about continuing to organize local conferences.

Commissioner Jon Tait said it showed there is good communication between the agencies and elected officials in Brunswick County’s District 5.

“I feel we can be a leader in District 5 by getting everyone together,” he said.

Commissioner Pat Batleman said there is another opportunity to host a joint meeting when county officials present information about the quarter-cent sales tax increase referendum they agreed to put on the May 6 election ballot.

Mayor Brenda Bozeman said there will be more potential for hosting other towns when the new Leland town hall is complete.

New town hall

Town Manager David Hollis said despite the delays that pushed the town hall opening from last fall until the spring, there is probably a month’s worth of work for the contractor to complete to finish the town hall. They could plan for a grand opening event in May.

The size of the new town hall means all the reception areas that have been built will not be filled when the staff first moves in.

To ensure there is a person at the main lobby reception are, the town board and staff are considering either using volunteers, partnering with the North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce or hiring someone part-time.

“That is the first person people will see. They need to be knowledgeable and personable. If we use volunteers, they will need training,” Bozeman said.

Commissioner Bob Corriston added the town could expand on the idea by inviting other towns to take part in any training sessions they schedule.

At the least he said they should invite the other town officials to come see the new town hall.

On the topic of training, the board members and staff discussed some issues to review: dress code, customer service and public speaking.

“Leland is a big town now. We have to present ourselves like one,” Batleman said.

“We always need to work on customer service,” Hollis said.

Founders’ Day plans

The officials intend to make Leland’s Founders’ Day, which is the second Saturday in September, extra special for the 25th anniversary of the town.

“What would make it a little more special?” Hollis asked.

Batleman wants to acknowledge Woodburn, the town that was located where Leland is now and recognize the people who served Leland in the past 25 years.

“We should try to acknowledge the Leland that began with the Leland we have now,” Batleman said.

Commissioner Jane Crowder said they need to show an appreciation for the pain and suffering it took to get Leland incorporated.

Hollis said the town can request residents bring in any old photos to share.

“We can put out a call for everyone to bring in information,” he said.

Hollis added that the staff is working on making the Founders Day activities more of a carnival.

“There is no Brunswick County Fair. We could substitute our Founders’ Day,” Hollis said.

Transportation improvements

Town officials also discussed projects that are only in the idea stage.

First on the list is straightening North Gate Drive at Village Road, which Hollis said would create an intersection with Baldwin Drive to make the properties developable.

Hollis said to make the idea work, the town would need property owners on board and a preliminary cost for the project.

“Then the council can decide if they want to do it,” he said.

Batleman said it is a good project, but not a priority.

A more reasonable project considered was extending Perry Avenue from Village Road through to Old Fayetteville Road.

It would provide another through street near the new town hall. Perry Avenue runs next to Town Hall Park.

Discussion of the transportation projects lead to the board members considering if a transportation bond would be the best way to pay for them.

“This is how Wilmington finances a lot of projects,” Hollis said.

“Would that be a referendum item?” Batleman asked.

“I think if we used GO Bonds it would have a vote, unless we are talking about tolling,” Tait said.

“We don’t use the T word,” Bozeman said.

Hollis said a bond would require a vote, which in turn means informing the public and educating residents on the projects it would cover.


Brian Slattery is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.