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KENLY — Town Manager Michael Douglas said when he was hired last July, one of the top items on his to-do list was enacting a downtown revitalization plan.
To address that issue, Douglas called a Thursday brainstorming session in the town council chambers that more than 30 residents attended. Douglas hoped those participants would be willing to help by bringing their ideas for downtown Kenly to the table.
“Johnston County is growing and is the eighth fastest-growing municipality in the nation,” said Douglas. “Why can’t Kenly have a part of that?”
“The first thing I see whenever I come into Kenly is that there are lots of things that we can do to downtown,” Douglas added. “We need to make our downtown look good and make people want to come here. The purpose of tonight’s meeting is to get a redevelopment steering committee formed that will serve as a sounding board to (the) Kenly Town Council by gathering information and bringing the ideas to council.”
Douglas also said he plans to request an initial $5,000 from the council to be devoted to downtown development and mentioned ongoing downtown projects including the pursuit of a $30,000 search grant to tear down the water tower and the old town hall and convert the area where they now stand into a greenspace.
In addition, he said a group would be visiting Town Hall within the next week to offer some ideas on how the downtown area could be made to look more attractive.
After Douglas spoke, he opened the floor for public comments.
Local businessman Dale Moore mentioned a study that was done in 2008 designed to help make Kenly better, although the suggestions and recommendations made never materialized.
“The difference in this meeting and then is that we have a town manager and a council that want to do something about it,” said Moore. “The money has not been the problem, the plan has been the problem.”
Douglas requested by a show of hands of those in attendance who would be interested in serving on the revitalization committee.
He compiled a list of the names of 10 residents and said he would be following up with each one via email in the next few days.
From that group, a final list of from five to seven people would be selected to form the committee and presented to the council for approval.
Prior to adjourning the meeting, Douglas said all future meetings of the revitalization committee would be held in council chambers and would be open to the public.
“This was a great turnout tonight,” said Douglas. “I am excited.”