Public comment kicked off the town of Garland’s Feb. 18 meeting, with residents bringing forth ideas and issues that could potentially change the town’s appearance. The discussion had led the town’s leaders to lean toward seeking county assistance in removing nuisance properties. Buildings and needed repairs are also being researched by the board members.
First up to speak was resident Michael Jeski, who said he had an idea about tapping into musical talent nestled in Garland.
“Garland is a wonderful town,” Jeski said to the board. “The talent in town is overwhelming,” he said noting the range of tastes, from gospel to blue grass to country. He mentioned that he had brought up the idea to create a music-based club to Commissioner Michael Strickland.
“I would like to call it Hanger 18,” added Jeski. He went on to elaborate on the reasons for the name he picked and that the location he desired was the old theater.
“In order for Garland to grow, we have got to dream,” Mayor Winifred Murphy reminded. “You have a lot of creative ideas. The board listened intently, but no action was taken on the idea.
Resident Stephan Green also brought up an abandoned house that has been a blight on the Garland landscape for what he estimated to be 50 to 60 year. He requested the board vote on dealing with the property, which Green said was on his street. Green also gave the board a picture of the property that he was requesting be demolished, which he said he had been brought to the board before.
“Sampson County would come out and take care of it if the board approves that it should be condemned,” Green stated. “I think it’s not livable so I think it should be condemned.”
“It brings my property (value) down, (a property) which I have spent thousands of dollars on,” Green added.
Murphy thanked Green for bringing the matter to the board’s attention, and she mentioned that the town has contacted the property owner on multiple occasions without any resolution.
Commissioner Ralph Smith made a motion to have the property earmarked as a nuisance property and Michael Strickland seconded it.
“We have others, should we do them at one time,” asked Mayor Pro Tem Haywood Johnson. The board discussed looking at other dilapidated properties in the town, and in fairness to those other owners, investigation into the properties are planned.
Murphy said the other owners will need to be contacted as well in regards to their properties.
“Here are the proper procedures,” detailed Smith. “First we have to have a county inspection, then the fire marshall. The reason that I entered this motion, a simple reason, is that the county will do nothing unless we do something. I think this is our first step.”
“And the county will assist in taking it down?” asked Johnson of Smith.
“From what I understand the county will actually go in and tear it down, and then charge it to (the property owner’s) taxes,” Smith explained.
Next the board addressed some needs at the Garland Senior Center, which Commissioner S.J. Smith said needed to have some work done to the front door, as well as inside the building.
The Senior Center, like many buildings in the area, are starting to show signs of aging, and Mayor Pro Tem Johnson mentioned that the kitchen area needs some renovations, even though they get an inspection like a restaurant.
“It’s got a porcelain sink back there,” detailed Johnson. “The counter tops are outdated.”
“By the next board meeting I will have it all together,” said Johnson. He also said that he had already talked to the director, Marie Faircloth, about the needed changes. Johnson said that she would be able to deal with the cabinets already in place in the Senior Center, but she would like to have the counter top changed. Stove, refrigerator, microwave, warmer and a deep sink were all items that are going to be looked into.
After the Senior Center the library’s ceiling was addressed.
“Over in the library the ceiling is falling out,” stated Johnson. “I went over and patched it.”
“Is there a leak?” asked Strickland. “I haven’t been in there in a while. It could be an old leak.” More research is needed to determine the exact causes of the ceiling damage.
“Mayor Pro Tem Johnson, thank you for looking into that,” interjected Murphy. “We certainly want to be proactive rather than reactive. If there is something that we can repair now before it does get worse, we need to do that.”
“It seems like a lot of our buildings are aging and we having to spend a lot on repairs,” added Murphy. “I don’t think this is anything common just to Garland; I noticed that the Sampson County Board of Commissioners are also experiencing a lot of building issues as well.” She encouraged the board to remember to be proactive before problems get out of hand and more money has to be spent than needed.
Garland streets and the cemetery were also discussed, with certain locations needing some work done, either through sand or repaving or resurfacing. S.J. Smith was concerned about spending so much money on certain streets were there was little traffic, weighing the expense versus the benefit to the town as a whole.
Ultimately Johnson will be overseeing what areas will be filled with sand and clay, and will control what areas are modified. Ditches also will be looked at as well as the potential placement for a catch basin down by the shirt factory’s shipping department. The board will look at that again at the next meeting.
2014 bid packets for the paving are also going to be going out from the request of Town Clerk Jennifer Gray with the board’s approval. Other patches may need to be added to the initial list due to water repairs on state roads, with the board having more details after more repairs are made.
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.