New Bern aldermen will start discussion on Tuesday over whether to change the method used to elect aldermen and the mayor from the nonpartisan election and runoff method it has been using, to the nonpartisan plurality method.
Under the present system, a candidate avoids a runoff if he/she wins 50 percent of the vote plus one extra vote.
The proposed system proclaims whomever wins the most votes as the winner.
If the city used this proposed method in the 2009 municipal election, then-Mayor Tom Bayliss would have won reelection, since he was the top vote getter in a three-way election.
Lee Bettis came in second, and the two faced each other in a run-off that Bettis won.
Under the proposed method, the chances of a fringe candidate winning an election go from unlikely, to much more likely, particularly if there are several candidates running.
On the other hand, a nonpartisan plurality method could increase the chances of African American candidate being elected mayor of New Bern, in cases where there is one African American candidate running against two or more white candidates.
The stated reason for the change is to save money. New Bern municipal elections are expensive enough already, being held in election years between any other elections.
Compounding that expense are runoff elections, which happen in New Bern more often than not.
Together, they cost New Bern taxpayers thousands of dollars.
Still, a run-off gives voters the chance to have a say in who represents them on the Board of Aldermen from among the top two candidates should there be a run-off.
Is that worth the added expense? Some may say yes. But judging from actual voter turnouts for municipal run-off elections, practically speaking, the answer may be no.
Here’s the city attorney’s memo to the board with details:
TO: Mayor and Members of the Board City Manager
FROM: Michael Scott Davis, City Attorney
RE: Amendments to City Charter to Change Election Method
DATE: April 17, 2019
The Board recently directed me to draft a resolution to change the municipal election method from the nonpartisan election and runoff method to the nonpartisan plurality method. Since North Carolina has a state statute that authorizes municipalities to amend their charters to change the election method from one of the four basic options (all on odd years), the Board has the ability to proceed with the charter amendment by following the statute, or by seeking a local bill from the General Assembly. The Board also has the option to call for a special election for the purpose of submitting the ordinance to a vote. Presuming that the Board wants to proceed to amend the charter consistent with the statutory authority, here are the required steps:
Adopt a resolution of intent to consider an ordinance amending the charter which also includes a call for a public hearing on the proposed charter
A notice of the public hearing shall be published at least once not less than 10 days prior to the date fixed for the public hearing, and shall contain a summary of the proposed amendments.
Following the public hearing, but not earlier than the next regular meeting and not more than 60 days from the public hearing, the Board may adopt an ordinance amending the charter to implement the amendments proposed in the resolution of
Within 10 days after an ordinance is adopted, the Board shall publish a notice stating that an ordinance amending the charter has been adopted and the notice must summarize the contents and effect of the
City clerk shall file a certified true copy of the charter amendment with the Secretary of State and the Legislative
In order for the ordinance to be effective at the next election, the amendment must be finally adopted and approved at least 90 days prior to election day.
RESOLUTION OF INTENT TO CONSIDER AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE CHARTER OF THE CITY OF NEW BERN TO CHANGE THE METHOD OF ELECTION FROM THE NONPARTISAN ELECTION AND RUNOFF METHOD TO THE NONPARTISAN PLURALITY METHOD AND SETTING THE DATE FOR A PUBLIC HEARING THEREON
THAT WHEREAS, pursuant to G.S. §160A-101 and §160A-102, the Board of Aldermen of the City of New Bern may adopt an ordinance to amend the Charter of the City of New Bern to implement any of the optional forms set out in G.S. §160A-101; and
WHEREAS, G.S. §160A-102 requires that proposed Charter amendments first be submitted to a public hearing and that due notice thereof be published not less than ten (10) days prior to the date fixed for the public hearing.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN OF THE CITY OF NEW BERN THAT:
Section 1. The Board of Aldermen of the City of New Bern hereby intends to consider an ordinance amending the Charter of the City of New Bern, as set forth in Session Law 2016-41 of the General Assembly of North Carolina, to change the method of election from the nonpartisan election and runoff method to the nonpartisan plurality method as authorized by G.S.
160A-101(7)b. It is proposed that at the regular municipal election to be held in 2021, the mayor and members of the Board of Aldermen shall be elected according to the nonpartisan plurality method.
Section 2. A public hearing on the proposed ordinance is hereby called in the City Hall courtroom at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.
Section 3. Following the public hearing called hereby, the Board of Aldermen shall consider passage of the ordinance at its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. in the City Hall courtroom.
Section 4. The City Clerk is hereby directed to cause to be published in the Sun Journal a proper notice of the public hearing called, which notice shall contain a summary of the proposed Charter amendments.
Meeting opened by Mayor Dana Outlaw. Prayer Coordinated by Alderwoman Harris. Pledge of Allegiance.
Consider Adopting a Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing on the Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20.
At this meeting, the City Manager will present the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019-2020. Budget workshops are scheduled for April 30th and May 1st beginning at 1 p.m. each day. Following those workshops, a public hearing will be held as required by state statute. The proposed date of the hearing is May 14, 2019.
4. Consider Approving a Proclamation for MumFest 2019.
(Ward 1) Charlene Harvell, Promotions Coordinator with Swiss Bear, has requested a proclamation in honor of MumFest 2019. This represents the festival’s 39th year.
5. Consider Approving a Proclamation for the 2019 National Day of Prayer.
In conjunction with the 68th Annual National Day of Prayer, Tharesa Lee has requested a proclamation observing May 2, 2019 as a day of prayer in New Bern.
6. Approve Minutes.
Minutes from the May 4, 2019 special meeting and May 9, 2019 regular meeting are provided for review and approval.
7. City Manager’s Presentation of Fiscal Year 2019-20 Budget.
Mark Stephens, City Manager, will distribute copies of the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 and will share a PowerPoint presentation to spotlight significant areas within the budget.
8. Conduct a Public Hearing and Consider Adopting an Ordinance to Annex Property at 846 Highway 55 West.
Othella Clarence Best and Shelia Best petitioned for their property at 846 NC Highway 55 West to be annexed into the city limits, and the Board accepted the petition at its May 9, 2019 meeting. The property is further identified as Tax Parcel ID 8-222-169. After conducting a public hearing on the request, the Board is asked to consider adopting an ordinance to annex the property. A memo from Morgan Potts, City Planner, is attached.
9. Discussion of Duffest 2019.
Duffest, a city-sponsored event, is held annually in May. This year, the Duffyfield Residents Council would like to have the event in June. This will allow the event to coincide with activities planned for a Juneteenth celebration. The Board is asked to consider allowing this change in schedule. Carol Williams, on behalf of the Duffyfield Residents Council, will be in attendance to share information and answer questions the Board may have.
10. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Substantial Amendment to the 2018 CDBG Program.
At its March 26, 2019 meeting, the Board adopted a resolution approving a substantial amendment to the FY2018 CDBG program. After that, staff realized the adoption of the amendment was sought too early and should have been delayed until a public hearing was held at the Office of Development Services. That public hearing was conducted on April 9, 2019, and no questions or comments were received. The Board is now asked to again consider adopting the resolution approving the substantial amendment. As a reminder, the amendment authorizes reallocation of funds that will be used to construct up to four units of affordable housing that will be available for rent.
11. Consider Adopting a Resolution Indicating Intent to Consider an Ordinance Amending the Election Method from Nonpartisan with Runoff to a Nonpartisan Plurality Method and Calling for a Public Hearing on the Proposed Change.
As recently directed by the Board, the City Attorney drafted a resolution to change the municipal election method from a nonpartisan election with a runoff to a nonpartisan plurality method. Since North Carolina has a state statute that authorizes municipalities to amend their charters to change the election method from one of the four basic options (all of which are in odd years), the Board can proceed with a charter amendment by following the statute, or by seeking a local bill from the General Assembly. The Board also has the option to call for a special election for the purpose of submitting the ordinance to a vote. Mr. Davis can further explain these options, if desired.
Presuming the Board wants to amend the charter consistent with the statutory authority, a resolution has been prepared to indicate the Board’s intent to consider an ordinance that will amend the charter. The resolution also calls for a public hearing to be held on May 14, 2019. Following that hearing, the Board can consider adopting the amended ordinance at its May 28, 2019 meeting.
12. Consider Adopting a Budget Ordinance Amendment for the FY2018-19 Operating Budget.
This budget ordinance amendment recognizes $17,500 from the Governors Highway Safety Grant to purchase a police patrol vehicle. It also amends the FY2019 budget to advance repayment of the installment purchase debt for the ERP Phase I project.
13. Discussion of Water Resources Capital Item.
The FY2018-19 budget included $60,000 in Water Resources to convert the ammonia system at the water treatment plant from a gas to a liquid system. This figure included $20,000 for materials and $40,000 for installation and transition. Staff has determined they can complete the conversion without utilizing outside assistance, which will save $40,000. It is requested that the Board authorize staff to implement a budget revision to allow for the $40,000 to be spent on the installation of a much-needed generator at the Industrial Park tank. The cost of installing the generator is estimated at $53,000. The additional $13,000 in funds need for the generator can be taken from the amount budgeted for the installation of a generator at the Cove City standpipe.
Carol Williams’ second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and she is ineligible for reappointment. Alderwoman Harris is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three year
Rose Williams’ appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission expired February 8, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. Mayor Outlaw is asked to make an appointment to serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely related
Mattie Tatum’s appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission will expire February 22, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. Alderman Bengel is asked to make an appointment to serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related
Anne Schout resigned from her seat as an alternate on the Board of Adjustment effective March 1, 2019. Alderman Kinsey is asked to make an appointment to fill the remainder of Schout’s term, which will expire on November 12, 2021.
Mike Markham’s seat on the Friends of the Firemen’s Museum Board will expire on April 22, 2019. Mr. Markham has expressed interest in being reappointed. Alderwoman Harris is requested to reappoint him or to make a new appointment to serve a three-year
Meeting opened by Mayor DanaE. Outlaw. Prayer Coordinated by Alderwoman Harris. Pledge ofAllegiance.
Request and Petition ofCitizens.
This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens. This is an opportunity for public comment, and we thank you for coming to the Board of Aldermen meeting tonight to share your views. We value all citizen input.
Speaker comments are limited to a maximum of 4 minutes during the public comment period. At the conclusion of 4 minutes, each speaker shall leave the podium. Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member. Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period.
In the board’s discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation. If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group’s comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes.
Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close the 200 Block of Change Street for the Historic District Resident’s Association’s SpringSocial.
(Ward 1) Kelly Sorenson, Social Committee Chair for the Historic District Resident’s Association (“HORA”), has requested the 200 block of Change Street be closed to vehicular traffic on April 27, 2019 from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. for HDRA’s spring social. A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached.
ConsiderAdoptingaResolutiontoClosethe600BlockofSouthFrontStreet for Tryon PalaceEvent.
(Ward 1) Rebekah Hornek, Cultural Arts Coordinator for Tryon Palace, has requested the 600 block of South Front Street be closed to vehicular traffic on April 26, 2019 from 12 noon until 11 p.m. and on April 27, 2019 from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. This is to facilitate the Palace’s social event “An Evening with Diana Gabaldon”. A memo from Foster Hughes is attached.
Consider Approving a Proclamation for Boys & Girls ClubWeek.
Taylor Shannon, Special Events & Marketing Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club, has requested a proclamation observing April 8-12, 2019 as Boys & Girls Club Week.
Consider Approving a Proclamation for EarthDay.
Foster Hughes has requested a proclamation observing Earth Day on April 22, 2019. New Bern Parks and Recreation is collaborating with New Bern Now and other organizations to offer an Earth Day Celebration on April 20, 2019 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the “Talbot Lot” on the corner of Craven and South Front Streets. A memo from Foster Hughes is attached.
Minutes from the March 26, 2019 regular meeting are attached for review and approval.
Presentation of Reliable Public PowerAward.
Charles Bauschard, Director of Public Utilities, will make a brief presentation on the Electric Department’s Diamond designation as a Reliable Public Power Provider (“RP3”) and will present the award.
Presentation on DowntownParking.
Bill Faulkenbury, on behalf of the Downtown Parking Committee formed by Swiss Bear, and Danny Batten, on behalf of the Downtown Business Council, will provide an update on downtown parking.
Presentation on a Possible Year-Round Calendar at J.T. Barber Elementary School.
(Ward 5) Erica Phillips, Principal of J.T. Barber School, will share information about a possible year-round school calendar for J.T. Barber.
Conduct a Public Hearing and Consider Adopting an Ordinance to Rezone 1203 Simmons Street from R-10 Residential District to C-5 Office & InstitutionalDistrict.
(Ward 2) Tarheel Building Systems, on behalf of owner Michael Rice, requested to rezone an approximate 0.22-acre tract of land from R-10 Residential District to C-5 Office & Institutional District. The property is located at 1203 Simmons Street and is further identified as Tax Parcel #8-034-059. The Planning & Zoning Board unanimously recommended approval of the request at its March 5, 2019 meeting. This public hearing was duly noticed as required. After conducting the public hearing, the Board is asked to consider adopting the ordinance to rezone the property. A memo from Morgan Potts, City Planner, is attached.
Conduct a Public Hearing and Consider Adopting an Ordinance to Rezone 703 Carolina Avenue from R-8/R-10 Residential District to C-3 Commercial District.
(Ward 2) Mosaic Development Group requested to rezone approximately 30.81 acres located at 703 Carolina Avenue from R-8/R-10 Residential District to C-3 Commercial District. The property is further described as Tax Parcel 8-044-011. The Planning & Zoning Board approved the request by a vote of 5-2 at its March 19, 2019 meeting. This public hearing was duly noticed as required. After conducting the public hearing, the Board is asked to consider adopting the ordinance to rezone the property. A memo from Mrs. Potts is attached.
ConductaPublicHearingandConsiderAdoptinganOrdinancetoAnnexTax Parcel IDs 8-209-24000, 8-209-24001 and a Portion of 8-209-13001 Owned by Weyerhaeuser NRCompany.
By request dated March 13, 2019, Weyerhaeuser NR Company sought annexation of approximately 8.13 acres, which includes Lot 4 of Craven 30 West, West New Bern Parkway and Downey Drive, and a portion of Tax Parcel ID #8-209-13001 lying between West New Bern Parkway/Downey Drive and NC Highway 43. The Board of Aldermen accepted the petition at its March 26, 2019. Subsequently, this
public hearing was duly noticed as required. After conducting the public hearing, the Board is asked to consider adopting the ordinance to rezone the property. A memo from Mrs. Potts is attached.
Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving the Execution of a General Warranty Deed for 814 West Street Between Habitat for Humanity of Craven County and Shenatta LavernePowell.
(Ward 1) At its March 8, 2016 meeting, the Board of Aldermen approved a Deed and a Transfer and Reversion Agreement with Habitat for Humanity for the property located at 814 West Street. A home has since been constructed on the property, and Habitat is now ready to convey the property to Shenatta Laverne Powell. To facilitate this conveyance, the City’s signature is needed on a general warranty deed to evidence that Habitat has complied with the terms and conditions of the Transfer and Reversion Agreement and that the reversion provisions of the Agreement are no longer applicable. A memo from Scott Davis, City Attorney, is attached.
Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Water and Sewer Use Agreement for Property on Highway 55West.
The owners of 846 NC Highway 55 West are proposing to develop a single-family residence. The property is outside of the New Bern municipal limits. The proposed development will have a calculated average daily water and sewer demand of 360 gallons per day. To facilitate the proposed development, a standard water and sewer service connection can be provided to the property without the need for a main extension. Section 74-74 of the ordinance provides that a written water and sewer use agreement be entered into to outline the roles and responsibilities of both parties in establishing service for the proposed project. A memo from Jordan Hughes, City Engineer, is attached.
ConsiderAcceptingaPetitiontoAnnexPropertyat846Highway55Westand Adopt a Resolution to Call for a Public Hearing on theAnnexation.
Othella Clarence Best and Shelia Best have petitioned for their property at 846 NC Highway 55 West to be annexed into the city limits. The property is further identified as Tax Parcel ID 8-222-169. The Board is asked to consider accepting the petition and calling for a public hearing to be held on April 23, 2019 regarding the annexation. A memo from Morgan Potts, City Planner, is attached.
Carol Williams’ second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and she is ineligible for reappointment. Alderwoman Harris is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three year term.
Rose Williams’ appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission expired February 8, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. Mayor Outlaw is asked to make an appointment to serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely related field.
Mattie Tatum’s appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission will expire February 22, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. Alderman Bengel is asked to make an appointment to serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.
Anne Schout resigned from her seat as an alternate on the Board of Adjustment effective March 1, 2019. Alderman Kinsey is asked to make an appointment to fill the remainder of Mrs. Schout’s term, which will expire on November 12, 2021.
Nancy Mansfield has resigned from the Friends of the Firemen’s Museum Board. Her term would have expired on April 22, 2019. It is requested Alderman Bengel make an appointment to be effective on or after April 22nd to fill Mrs. Mansfield’s seat.
Mike Markham’s seat on the Friends of the Firemen’s Museum Board will expire on April 22, 2019. Mr. Markham has expressed interest in being reappointed. Alderwoman Harris is requested to reappoint him or to make a new appointment to serve a three-year term.
Dave Finn’s seat on the Friends of the Firemen’s Museum Board will expire on April 22, 2019. Mr. Finn has expressed interest in being reappointed. Alderman Aster is requested to reappoint him or to make a new appointment to serve a three-year term.
Dawn Zimmer, former mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, is giving a presentation on resiliency in New Bern on April 4.
A special meeting of the New Bern Board of Aldermen was called for 1 p.m. Thursday, April 4 in the City Hall Courtroom located on the second d floor, at 300 Pollock St., for the presentation.
According to Wikipedia, in 2012 Zimmer was widely acclaimed for leadership during the aftermath Hurricane Sandy. On Sept. 9, 2013, she was recognized as “Hero of the Harbor” by the Waterfront Alliance for her work “to make her city a national model for preparedness, meeting with FEMA and state officials, surban planners, scientists and many others to create an ‘integrated solution.'”
For her leadership during Hurricane Sandy, Zimmer was appointed to the President’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.
An effort by New Bern city staff to start a farmer’s market at City Market on First Street was dealt a crippling blow on Friday when a key partner announced it is backing out of the plan.
The city was going after a $200,817 grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund to beef up plans to revitalize its old Electric Utility Yard on First Street. The plan, called the Volt Center, is well underway and includes a classroom area in partnership with Craven Community College. That much has been publicly known.
What wasn’t known outside tight circles around City Hall was a revived effort to start a 32-stall farmer’s market and a market café, with work starting Nov. 1. A “soft opening” was planned for the 2019 Holiday Season, with a full opening date sometime in spring 2020.
Key to the city’s grant application was its partnership with Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden, which would provide produce and other resources for the farmer’s market.
As of Friday, that partnership came to a screeching halt.
“It appears that the City of New Bern is going in a different direction on the project, therefore on behalf of the Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden Board of Directors and staff, we would like to formally remove our organization from the project,” said Lovay Wallace Singleton, executive director.
Singleton made the announcement at a mediated meeting of involved parties held at Craven Community College on Friday.
The meeting was held at the behest of a furious Ward 1 Alderman Sabrina Bengel, who announced at a Board of Aldermen meeting earlier this month that city staff was going behind her back with the new farmer’s market project.
New Bern Farmers Market on South Front Street. Google Street View image
“I find this to be a duplication of services already offered,” Bengel said in a letter to Singleton.
“The only reason I found out about it was that I was asked to attend a meeting with farmers (only two or three showed up) to discuss this grant. I was extremely upset about this because I had no idea this was moving forward. As I started to get more information it opened up lots of questions as to why we were doing this. I also learned that no one from our current Farmers market was included in these discussions nor anyone from Swiss Bear or the Catalyst Kitchen which is almost the same project as your proposed cafe.
“The discussions early on with the Farmers Market were that they were asked if they would move their operation to First Street. When their Board decided no, in my opinion talks led by the City should have started with them on how to enhance what they have at their current site and work with the partners identified in this grant. This is my reason for calling the meeting to have ALL the participants at the table. I started this conversation over a month ago and tried to get this meeting together prior to submitting the application but that did not happen.
“By opening another Farmers Market late this year for a soft opening and full on opening in April of 2020 will certainly cause economic harm to our current farmers market at a time when we need to do everything possible to help our economic engine downtown. With the closing of the Convention Center and now the hotel it would be better if we could work together to enhance the current market and all work together.
“… I do not want to hurt the EDA grant and am currently working to get the terms revised so that this property remains a training center run by the College in producing workers for the many important jobs needed in our area right now. I believe that should our first priority over creating another farmers market,” Bengel said.
Mayor Pro Tem and Ward 6 Alderman Jeffrey Odham has a different take.
“The plan and concept for the city market is the same as it has always been,” Odham said in an email to the Post. “It has been unanimously supported by the previous board and the current board each time there has been a vote regarding the concept. It is my understanding that one member of our board says they weren’t aware the kitchen/market was part of the plans; however, the blueprints have always included this aspect as has as the CNI (Choice Neighborhood Initiative) plan.
“The concept has garnered quite a bit of support through multiple grants and various groups/leaders throughout the region. Now that one of the key partners recently decided to leave, we lost quite a bit of funding with the exit of this partner.
“The direction of the board has been supportive of the plan. Until a majority of the board gives direction, staff will continue pushing forward. Individual board members going against the direction of a full board sets a dangerous precedent.”
Base Camp’s withdrawal was not just limited to its withdrawal from the plan. Its board plans to “advise those entities that we are no longer part of the project.”
That’s not all.
“In reference to the funding that we have received for the City Market, we will coordinate with the grantor to determine the returning or reallocation of their funds,” Singleton said in her letter.
The rub is that a city farmer’s market would compete with the existing New Bern Farmers Market on South Front Street.
Several years ago, the city approached the Farmers Market with the idea of moving to the City Market location. When the Farmers Market board rejected the idea, city staff started playing hardball, threatening to kick Farmers Market out of its city-owned venue.
Timing didn’t work out for City Hall, however. The lease expired right at election time 2017, and rather than face backlash from furious Farmers Market members and customers, city staff extended the lease for five years but increased rent from $1 to $500 a month. It is the only case of the city charging more than token rent to a non-profit to use city-owned property.
It would also increase traffic on Second Street by an estimated 200 trips per day to start. Second Street is a primarily residential street in the Ghent neighborhood where the city has said it has been working to decrease traffic. (Disclosure: Randy Foster, the author of this article, lives within the affected area and has complained to the city about traffic on Second Street.)
The old electric utility facility on First Street is both a problem and an opportunity for the city.
Derelict and probably contaminated due to decades of industrial use, it was quite likely the city would never be able to sell it off as surplus property. On the other hand, the facility has easy freeway access and is a blank canvas for what it could be used for.
City staff first proposed a farmer’s market, but lacking support from virtually anyone, plus heated opposition from the existing Farmers Market, the city backed off – at least openly.
Instead, it partnered with Craven Community College and began renovations of the main building at the old electric utility yard, branding it as the “Volt Center” with the plan to offer college courses there.
But behind the scenes, city staff never let go of the idea of creating a farmer’s market.
The city partnered with Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden and sought a grant to pay for improvements at the old utility yard to create the farmer’s market.
The city sought a $200,817 (and fifty-cent) grant from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund to begin work on a farmer’s market starting Nov. 1, with a completion date on April 15, 2020.
The deadline for the grant application was March 8. The city beat the deadline by two days.
According to a statement for the Volt Center contained within the grant application, “the mission of the Volt Center is to provide access to workforce development classes, as well as an incubator and commercial kitchen, farmers market and agricultural center focusing on direct sales to the City of New Bern.
“… New Bern seeks to attract public and private reinvestment in downtown and distressed neighborhoods by offering the kinds of amenities, including workforce development opportunities, that transforms communities. New Bern seeks to develop a public/private partnership with broadbased community support.”
Two things were key to the grant application: Base Camp involvement, and broadbased community support. It is doubtful the city ever had “broadbased community support,” and now it lacks Base Camp involvement, as well.
Other points in the application amount to stretches of truth if not flat-out lies.
The application claims that the Volt Center/City Market is in Downtown New Bern. It is not; it is a full mile from the edge of downtown.
There is no mention at all that the facility would compete with an established farmer’s market.
The city has been claiming an effort to decrease traffic on Second Street, when in reality it was working behind the scenes on a project that will significantly increase traffic.
And the application said a “Market Committee of farmers and area stakeholders has been established to advise the City on the process and start-up operations,” yet no one from the existing Farmers Market has been involved, nor was the alderman from one of two wards most affected by the project.
The list goes on. Here are some excerpts from the executive summary contained within the grant application:
The City Market, located at the renovated Volt Center (the City’s former utility complex), will be a modern facility incorporating a farmer’s market featuring 32 stalls, a market café and incubator kitchen and training space for workforce development and educational programs, City Market is a partnership between the City of New Bern, Craven Community College, Veteran’s Organic Garden and Craven County. As co-applicants, the City and CCC secured grant funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, the Bate Foundation, and Golden Leaf Foundation to renovate and repurpose the Center as a training facility and farmer’s market. The farmer’s market space also includes a café that will provide kitchen space and serve as an incubator for start-up businesses ranging from bakeries to food trucks. The City asks the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to join with other community partners to complete the City Market project, a first of its kind in downtown New Bern, N.C.
Partnering with the Veterans Organic Garden, the City of New Bern seeks to create a farmer’s market that will highlight and support agribusiness in Craven, Carteret, Jones, and Pamlico Counties. This market will be a permanent, year-round farmer’s market offering selling opportunities for farmers Wednesday thru Saturday with the ability to accommodate 32 farmers. The City Market will provide local, healthy food to consumers of all income levels and will enrich the community with opportunities to increase farm receipts and other food sales, employment, and cultural as well as educational offerings. The market will charge a low rental rate (approximately $40 per week for 4 days of selling opportunities) for farmers, as to entice participation. City Market’s mission is to create and maintain a market that supports area farmers through increased exposure to the consumer and additional revenues from the direct sale of produce.
A wide variety of fresh products will help insure the success and sustainability of City Market. The Market seeks not only produce farmers, but seafood, dairy, and egg vendors as well. A Market Committee of farmers and area stakeholders has been established to advise the City on the process and start-up operations. Farmers will be involved in making decisions about hours of operation, setup and layout design, etc. A Market Manager will also be hired to oversee a point of sale, market and café operations and education and special event coordination. Thus, farmers will have significant input in the development of the Market prior to its opening. A “soft opening” of City Market is set for the 2019 Holiday Season. A Grand Opening with farmers selling to consumers is targeted for the Spring of 2020.
In addition to expanding and enhancing the economic strength and viability of Eastern NC farmers, City Market will contribute to the education of city and county residents. With its location within the newly repurposed Volt Center, City Market will also be an Education Center for the community. Here, farmers will have access to small business classes specifically geared to agribusiness. Partnering with NC Cooperative Extension offices in each county and Craven Community College, City Market will be a vehicle for farmers to attain specific certifications, workforce development training programs and community education. NC Cooperative Ext will present a series of classes on the nutritional, environmental, and economic value of buying local sustainably-produced farm products.
Youth education will also be a focus with after school learning opportunities beginning at the preschool age. The area’s local Boys and Girls Club is also located less than 2 blocks from the Volt Center enhancing educational opportunities for these “at-risk” youth. Education and business development will interface at City Market’s Incubator kitchen and Café and training. Here, the Market will allow workforce development opportunities to train hospitality workers for mobile food carts and trucks, and encourage culinary events to take place at the market. Many new chefs, bakers, and food artisan are looking for ways to launch their businesses in New Bern, and the City Kitchen. In addition, the Market will promote the “farm to table” concept among local restaurants offering special selling opportunities for farmers to sell directly to restaurants. The incubator kitchen will give entrepreneurs affordable commercial kitchen access as well as collaborative space in which to launch their businesses. The kitchen collective has the potential not only to help put amazing and delicious food into the hands of those living in the greater New Bern community but, create jobs, help launch new and exciting culinary businesses, and assist in helping businesses incubate and grow in the tri-counties.
Increased healthy foods in food deserts which New Bern is classified.
Increased fruit and vegetable consumption.
Strengthened local and regional food systems.
Improved local economy.
City Market’s central location between the main thoroughfare to New Bern’s downtown commercial and historic districts and Hwy. 70 offers access to local commuter traffic as well as visitors to the region. Through a targeted marketing approach, the City of New Bern seeks to capture at least 2% of this traffic which will have a significant impact on farmer’s direct sales. It will promote City Market as a tourist attraction and community center featuring special events that draw shoppers to the farmer’s market and provide entertainment and activities for all ages. Located within walking distance of several economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, Five Points and Duffeyfield as well as 2 public housing projects, City Market will increase access to healthy foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Our farmers hope to place their price points below the grocery store prices to encourage participation. The City hopes to strengthen local food systems, and contribute to a livelier pedestrian environment. City Market will promote healthy eating, and encourage a diet filled with rich whole foods, while highlighting local farmers’ beautiful produce, dairy and meat products. City Market will enrich the lives of many in the tri-counties. Community beneficiaries include residents of multiple New Bern Area neighborhoods, farmers, veterans and residents of all ages, chefs, restaurant-owners and business owners in Craven, Pamlico and Jones Counties.
… Sales for the Café opened 4 days per week will generate $180,000 (avg. $900 per day x 4 days per week) which equates to $12,000 in state tax. Food trucks (4) will estimate $24,000 generated in state tax.
… With increased support from the City of New Bern, the Incubator Kitchen and Farmers Market will produce an economic driver for local farmers, will give entrepreneurs affordable commercial kitchen access as well as collaborative space in which to launch their businesses to encourage economic stability. The City Market will bring business to neighboring stores. Spending money at farmers markets keeps your money in circulation within the local community, preserving and creating local jobs. Selling at the market allows City Market start our business slowly and focus on building our brand and customer base, where its impossible to do so at the big chains.
… Shopping at farmers markets that offer seasonal, locally grown food may reduce fossil fuel energy used to produce, process, and transport food, and can reduce the energy intensity of and individual’s diet if more plant-based foods are consumed in place of animal products. Shopping at farmers markets that offer seasonal, locally grown foods may reduce fossil fuel energy used to produce, process, and transport food.
Our farmers reduce the environmental and health impacts of pesticides by eliminating them or selecting effective materials with fewer known environmental health hazards. They treat animals humanely and strive to preserve the soil, water and wildlife habitat for future generations.
… City Market through the Volt Center will offer multiple educational initiatives for all ages. By exposing youth to farming and agribusiness, as well as educational opportunities and activities, they will be able to better envision a career in farming and will be more likely to choose this as their life’s work. Thus, City Market will continue to perpetuate future farmers and contribute to the stability and future of farming in the tri-county area of Craven, Pamlico and Jones Counties.
… City Market, through its numerous community partnerships and its marketing plan will bring awareness to the importance of farming and food production among all area populations, thus promoting and highlighting the significance of farming as an industry as well as promoting The Market as a community retail and gathering place. In addition, several neighborhoods adjacent to the Market are considered food deserts. The Market will help alleviate these food desert areas and increase the availability of fresh delivered produce to our disadvantage neighborhoods, by using targeted farmers.
Establish the City Market, a community market that will provide tangible support of local growers and producers in Craven, Jones, and Pamlico Counties, enhance greater New Bern’s economy and tourism industry. Through its partnerships with area nonprofit, government and educational institutions, the City of New Bern will create an easily accessible, centrally located, self-sustaining, community based farmer’s market. The City Farmers Market will promote the accessibility of fresh produce by capturing local and tourist traffic traveling on State Highway 70, which is one mile from the City Farmers Market Center location and brings NC residents from Raleigh and central NC to the coast and outer banks.
The City of New Bern is in the final stages of retrofitting the City Market complex with 16 anchor bays for farmers to display produce, dairy, seafood, and meats to be sold directly to consumers. Total vendor stalls when the Market is operating at full capacity is 32. The Market complex will be complemented by a Café and Training/Incubator Kitchen.
The City Market will be a market for farmers with strong farmer input. The City Market Stakeholder Committee, a committee of community farmers, business, education and nonprofit leaders, has been formed and is assisting in planning, raising awareness and encouraging participation in the City Market by area farmers.
In 2012, in Craven County, there were 256 farms comprising 70,632 acres and 276 acres on average. In addition to acreage producing grains, etc. Craven County farmers planted more than 35 acres in vegetables such as sweet corn, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. City Market and its Stakeholder Committee will reach out to those farmers and recruit them as City Market vendors. Reasonable rental rates and a strong marketing campaign and a single point of sale are supportive services the Market will provide that will encourage their participation. Local farmers can steer pricing and give guidance to ensure success and high farmer engagement in the Market. Currently, Craven ranks 28th in cash receipts from crops and livestock. Ultimately, selling and marketing of farm activities and production will bring awareness to NC Farms and improve the overall economy of NC.
The tri-counties’ proximity to MCAS Cherry Point, Camp LeJeune and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base make this area attractive to veterans. Approximately 10% of the 150,000+ people living in Craven, Pamlico, Jones Counties are Veterans. Many are choosing farming as a second career. The City has partnered with the Veteran’s Employment Base Camp (VEBCOG) is a non-profit organization designed to reintroduce unemployed, disabled veterans back in to the workforce as a productive, employable individual. VEBCOG will provide temporary employment and training during the post-war transitional phase. Urban farming is incorporated in the program as a peaceful means of rehabilitation for the veterans, who have previously faced more trying and violent situations while in the service. These veterans will especially be encouraged to sell at the Market and use it as incubator for their farming initiatives. City Market and its Stakeholder’s Committee can provide much needed support and mentorship for those new to farming.
The City Market will increase area farmers’ revenues from direct sales. Regional (eastern North Carolina) estimates for small farmer’s market’s gross sales (12 farmers) on a Saturday morning are approximately $1,000 per hour for a 3-hour period. By increasing the number of days and hours farmers are able to sell their products directly to consumers to 4 days per week for 5 hrs. per day, City Market’s goal is to increase farmer’s revenues from $250 per week to approximately $1500 per week over the next 2 years.
Scholarships for Market rent will also be available for new farmers and those needing that financial support. City Market will target its marketing efforts to capture commuters returning home from downtown offices, local residents of the adjacent neighborhoods as well as the Downtown Historic District and Ghent Neighborhoods and tourists frequenting the Greater New Bern Area. 12,000 cars travel on First Street on their way to or from downtown New Bern every week. In addition, an average of 101,000 thousand cars pass by on Highway 70E each day. The City of New Bern seeks to capture 2% of this commuter market and position itself as “a neighborhood market” for those residents living within walking distance of the Market. The City will advertise, market, and raise awareness to ensure high visitor volume and success of City Market by adding in-kind advertising dollars. If only 2% of the commuter traffic passing by the Market makes a $20.00 purchase, the overall gross profit to farmers and ranchers annually will be $106,000.
Increase domestic consumption of and access to locally produced agricultural products to all residents. City Market will work with NC Cooperative Extension and other entities to educate the community, engage families in the Market and promote these healthy food choices. The City of New Bern received a Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grant in 2015. The Choice Neighborhoods area is adjacent to the City Market location. 36% of the population of these neighborhoods lives at or below the poverty level. However, during the planning period, 30% of the population surveyed indicated they wanted access to fresh produce. Thus, City Market hopes to impact low income neighborhoods with increased availability and proximity of fresh fruits and produce, meats, and diary products. The Market is in walking distance to 3,300 people living in the Greater Five Points areas. City Market will educate these neighbors about healthy eating and food choices as well as having market vendors accept SNAP benefit cards.
Performance Measure #1 100% of Anchor Bays filled by Dec. 2020
Performance Measure #2 Increase in Dollar value and percentage of increase in sales of one or more specialty crops as the result of marketing and/or promotional activities happening at the City Market. Farmers will establish baselines of sales using sales @ farmers’ markets in Lenior and Pitt Counties to determine performance measures. As stated above, a measurable outcome of the Market will be increased sales revenues for farmers
Performance Measure #3 80% of Total Market Bays filled by Dec. 2021.
Performance Measure #4 City Market will work with NC Cooperative Extension to track growth in acreage planted in vegetables and produce and livestock sold/meat production.
… Target Market patrons will be downtown New Bern residents, business owners and employees during the week commuting home from work. The goal is to capture 10% of daily traffic on “Market Days”. The Market will draw from surrounding pedestrian neighborhoods including people living in the Greater Five Points Areas, New Bern Historic District and Ghent Neighborhoods (approximate 5,000 area population). (*Please note that populations have shifted due to Hurricane Florence flooding and it is difficult to project exact #s).
Weekly Market Draw: Individuals living in Jones, Craven and Pamlico counties, as well as, tourists traveling on Highway 70 headed to the Crystal Coast Beaches. Daily Market patrons targeted at 100 per day on average.
The farmers’ market will be self-sustaining. The City Market will have stall rental revenues (estimated total revenue @ $760 per week for the first 2 yrs.) as well as income from rental space for events and conferences. Some performance events will also charge a base fee. The City will continue to support the market with in-kind donations, and a board of producers will be responsible for managing and promoting it. When the Market is operating at full capacity, the City anticipates that Farmer’s Market rental fees generate approximately $1240 per week in income for the Market.
City Market is establishing a City Cafe as well as an Incubator Kitchen and Training Space located within the Market Complex. Market Café and Kitchen will serve agricultural producers, food product companies, caterers and food trucks, as well as students and instructors at the Volt Center. This model of clients will create jobs at the Cafe, and encourage entrepreneurial startups. Farmers will be able to sell directly to the Café and entrepreneurs operating there.
City Market farmers from Craven and surrounding counties will benefit from technical support and business assistance, as well as packaging, and marketing help with product line expansion. Meeting space included in kitchen design will serve as a training room for farmers and the public. Local vendor certification and Market training events geared toward vendors, and food handling classes will be conducted in the space. The Community is encouraged to use the space for education, as well as a central location for fundraisers and special events.
The City Market will create a first of its kind Incubator kitchen/restaurant to compliment the Farmer’s Market. The kitchen will serve as a instructional space for educational partnerships with Craven Community College, as well as local nonprofits. The Café space has been created, bathrooms installed. Grant funds awarded through grants from Golden Leaf Foundation and the EDA have enabled the City to “rough-in” plumbing, electrical, gas lines and grease trap. Outfitting the commercial kitchen space is still in process. Commercial Kitchen equipment and supplies are still needed. The dining space (indoor and on the porch) will seat 30 people focused primarily on lunch service.
Cooking classes and adult education space are also included in the kitchen design. Individual food lockers for bulk storage for entrepreneurial upstarts will be provided as well. Kitchen will be a certified USDA kitchen, and meet all standards set by the Craven County Health Department.
As per the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Eastern NC only lists two other incubator kitchens in the region; they are Burgaw Incubator Kitchen, Burgaw, N.C., and Eastern Carolina Food Ventures, Warsaw, N.C. The City Market’s kitchen will bring this innovation to Eastern N.C.
The City Market will create economic engines that will operate as profit-driven enterprises creating direct and indirect employment, and job creation through nonprofits, food trucks, and catering companies. Farmers seeking to create additional product lines can also increase personal revenue and create vertical sale opportunities.
Additional business incubation will be supported by a Maker Space that will also be located in the Café space for entrepreneurs developing prototypes and other innovative endeavors.
Direct positions created at the City Market would be 2 full time positions and 3 part time positions during Year 1 of operation. As the success of the City Market grows, positions once absorbed by the City of New Bern will be hired directly by kitchen revenues.
Indirect jobs for additional seasonal selling help in bays would be between 10 and 20 part time positions paid for by foundation grants and donations. Additional jobs can come from nonprofits such as Wash Away Unemployment, a nonprofit that seeks to train kitchen employees on safe serve and culinary arts.
Food trucks who need to use a USDA kitchen can create jobs by accessing the incubator kitchen. Start-up catering companies requiring commercial kitchen space will create culinary positions by using the kitchen for their events.
The Community encompassing the City of New Bern and surrounding counties will benefit from a meeting space located in the City Cafe.The Cafe will increase community cohesiveness by serving as a central meeting area. Hurricane Florence took its toll on the residents of New Bern, and many seek to rebuild and restore the amazing sense of community found in our small southern town. The City Cafe will create community cohesiveness allowing all income levels to gather together while supporting the great farmers and budding entrepreneurs of our area. Performance Measure
Performance measure #1 Point of Sales will be used to measure performance in the City Cafe. Performance Measure #2 Monthly vendor surveys will be taken asking to report sales for grant and performance review.
Performance Measure #3 Price strategy can be reviewed in Kitchen depending on sales, and marketing of Cafe.
The entire City Market site will focus on training, education and workforce development with a goal of improving the population’s job skills and improving quality of life. The City of New Bern in cooperation with its numerous community partners will establish educational opportunities and events that increase awareness of the region’s farming industry and the healthy foods it produces. City Market will become a community center that features an array of activities for all ages found through classes, events, and specialty dinners.
Develop adult education programs that enable current farmers and those entering the industry to continue to be on the cutting edge of this changing industry. Partnerships with NC Cooperative Extension, healthcare providers and CCC in this centrally located complex will insure that training and continuing education opportunities are easily accessible the greater New Bern community (City Market is within walking distance of more than 4,500 residents of the City of New Bern).
Grower and Farmer-focused certifications and education classes offered by NC Cooperative Extension such as training in the use of particular pesticides, will be available through City Market. These will be offered at the Volt Center classroom. Farmers will also be able to access classes on proper procedures for selling produce and other products in the Farmer’s Market environment adhering to sanitation and health standards. They will also have access to the Small Business Center with business classes offered through the Volt Center.
Well-trained hospitality workers are key to capturing eastern North Carolina’s tourism market. NC Cooperative Ext. will partner with City Market to offer workforce development classes geared to the hospitality industry. Serv safe classes will complement food preparation classes (food handling/food safety courses) offered by food safety specialists that will be taking place in the Market Kitchen. City Market has set a goal of 700 adults participating in some form of continuing education at the Market in 2020.
General education and enrichment includes events happening at the Marketplace and Café. Demos and tastings, hands on classes showcasing downtown Chefs, and workshops on various cooking styles will just be some of the offerings. Special events during Farmer’s Market hours will also be held to support farmers’ selling in the marketplace.
Youth Education includes:
Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Gardens (VEBCOG) in partnership with NC Cooperative Extension will conduct 4H programming to provide hands on experimental classes at the City Market. VEBCOG will have an activities calendar with monthly programs to increase the number and types of educational events. The site will bring agricultural opportunities to the market so that youth can engage and learn about the different types of farming practices.
“Give youth a chance to meet farmers at the City Market” will provide a targeted audience to introduce children and their families to an amazing array of produce not always offered in the average supermarket. Special events will offer opportunities for children and youth to meet and talk with farmers while parents buy directly from them gives farmers a better return for their produce.
Students will also be educated on farm animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and eaten natural diets. Preschool children, school age children, and high school students will experience the excitement of tasting new, fresh colorful foods. Students will be introduced to farming and be entertained by special events focused to their appropriate age group.
City Market Summer day camps and field trip opportunities for area county schools (Craven, Pamlico, Jones, Carteret and Onslow) will also be planned.
The City Market Cafe and Kitchen will play a strong role in community educational opportunities hosting adult education events, culinary classes, and workshops showcasing the bounty of New Bern farmers and artisans. The Café features a training center where Safe Serv and food prep classes will take place. Partnering with NC Cooperative Extension to expand its availabilty of classes, the City Market Kitchen will offer Cooksmart/Eat Smart Classes. Monthly cooking classes featuring our downtown chefs will be offered using prepared items from the City Market. Product tastings, pop-up events, community dinners, and community supported agricultural programs will be held in the Market Kitchen. The Cafe seeks to make food feel like an adventure, and encourage new ideas in healthy meal planning for families. The Cafe will host classes including free and fee-based options.
… Performance measures will be assessed based on adult education initiatives vs. children and youth education. The number of certificates and credentials obtained through workforce development initiatives w/CCC, VEBCOG and NC Cooperative Extension will be tracked to determine numbers issued. The number of new workers trained will also be tracked.
Class instructors will provide curriculum for teachers and others bringing students to City Market. Reviewing the day with teachers, counselors, preschool instructors, and daycare teachers, students will be quizzed as to what was learned the day of the visit. Feedback from these educators will be sought by the Market Manager to learn how to improve programs. Classes filled quickly will be noted. Literature will be passed out so to encourage repeat visits with their guardians.
Currently there are waiting lists for Agriculture programs offered by the extension agency. These classes fill quickly with only 25 students able to attend. The City Market will increase frequency and class sizes and monitor attendance compared to Ag extension classes. Class graduations and credentials issued will be benchmarks for success.
… The goal is 700 adults educated in Year 1. Children and youth visiting the Market for educational events, school trips, etc. is also at 1,000 during Year 1.
Children living in disadvantaged neighborhoods within a one mile radius can visit the City Market, and discover fun activities, as well as learning about healthy food choices.
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America will use the City Market as an opportunity to sell their products for fundraising activities.
Boys and Girls Club location is within walking distance to the City Market. Youth can explore the market activities for the day and participate in afterschool activities.
YMCA summer and after school programs can experience the City Market through educational activities, as well as day trip offered for Agri-tours to the farmer’s farms. YMCA is also located within a 2-mile radius.
10 Preschools are located within an 8-mile range, and activities offered after preschool for parents and their children can be a great way to encourage family togetherness.
West Craven High School has the Future Farmers of America program and can offer selling opportunities for their produce as fundraisers at the market.
4-H, classes will be offered by 4 H volunteers to bring all the wonderful programming into the city.
These classes have an attendance issue for disadvantaged youth due to the location of the classes.
This will allow wonderful agricultural programming to be available for all children.
… Adult educational programs will be tracked by class attendance, numbers of certificates awarded and jobs obtained as a result.
Survey distributed to parents whose children visited the market can inform the staff on how the programming was received. Staff can adjust length and content based on parents and school teachers surveys.
… CCC will track students completing workforce development training programs at City Market and then, ascertaining jobs to determine the success of adult education programs.
Before attending the City Market activities, instructors should prepare students as they would for a regular class. This gives the students areas to pay attention to when visiting the market. Age appropriate materials will be given to instructors. City market event director is especially interested in the data learned, and what captured the attention of the children. Improvements will be made as needed during monthly farm meetings.
How will data be collected? (For example: a survey, sign in sheet or financial records) The Market manager will work with his/her education partners (CCC, NC Cooperative Extension, CarolinaEast to capture this data. Surveys will be administered.
Field trips will be especially important to the education of children, and hopefully a repeat visits by parents. City Market staff will provide age appropriate worksheets and lectures before attending the City Market event. This will give the children and idea as to what they will be seeing and what they need to pay extra attention to once they are at the market. Feedback from instructors will be given in an email survey to City Market Manager. Manager then can make improvements on field trip events.
If the project is to continue beyond the grant period, describe how the project will continue to be funded and/or be self-sustaining.
The City Market will offer both free and fee-based classes to adults and children of all ages. Parents and guardians will be pay a fee associated with a few of the classes to cover costs. Grants and donations will cover scholarships for adults who meet financial criteria and disadvantaged youth to participate in classes.
Personnel Amount includes fringe benefits $45,500.00
Equipment Amount $130,350.00
Administration Amount $3,700.00
Capital Improvement Amount $5,000.00
Supplies Amount $16,267.50
City of New Bern Personnel
Economic Development Staff and Community Development Staff: Wages $28,750, Benefits $8625
3 Picnic Tables ADA Compliant Wheelchair Accessible: $2,658.54
4 Picnic Tables Square: $3,300
7 Patio/Cafe Umbrellas: $693
NCTTFC will be recognized as a supporter of the City Market Project on the City of New Bern, Veteran’s Employment Base Camp and the newly developed City Market websites. Press releases sent to local, as well as regional new media (tv and newspaper), social media posts and PSAs on public radio and other radio stations will also mention NCTTFC’s support. The City also has its own television station (Ch. 10 in New Bern) that airs public meetings and local event information. City Market will be promoted on that station.
City Market brochures promoting the Market will also include NCTTFC’s name and logo. 15,000 of these will be printed initially and will be distributed through Craven County TDA and State rest stops and visitor centers. Market bags may also be printed and will include NCTTFC’s logo.
PROJECTED IMPACTS BY ENDING DATE:
Total # Jobs Created (Permanent/Temporary) 7
Total # Jobs Sustained (Permanent/Temporary) 7
Number of Workers Re-Employed 10
Quota Holders Assisted 10
Current or Former Tobacco Farmers Assisted 10
Amount of New Income for Former Tobacco Workers $307,200
Number of Workers with Upgraded Skills 60
Persons Receiving Increased Educational Training 700
Total Number of People Served 12,000
Acres of Farmland Protected/Impacted 6,000
Volume of Product Produced/Distributed/Sold 30,000
Value of Product Produced/Distributed/Sold $217,192.00
CITY OF NEW BERN
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
MARCH 26, 2019 – 6:00 p.m.
CITY HALL COURTROOM
300 POLLOCK STREET
1. Meeting open b yMayor Dana E. Outlaw. Prayer coordinated by Alderman
Sabrina Bengel. Pledge of Allegiance.
2. Roll Call.
3. Consider Adopting a Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing to Rezone 1203 Simmons Street from R-10 Residential to C-5 Office & InstitutionalDistrict.
(Ward 2) Tarheel Building Systems, on behalf of owner Michael Rice, has requested to rezone an approximate 0.22-acre tract of land from R-10 Residential District to C-5 Office & Institutional District. The property is located at 1203 Simmons Street and is further identified as Tax Parcel #8-034-059. It is requested a public hearing be held on April 9, 2019 at 6 p.m. to consider this request. A memo from Morgan Potts, City Planner, is attached.
4. Consider Adopting a Resolution Calling for a Public Hearing to Rezone 703 Carolina Avenue from R-8/R-10 Residential District to C-3 Commercial District.
(Ward 2) Mosaic Development Group has requested to rezone approximately 30.81 acres located at 703 Carolina Avenue from R-8/R-10 Residential District to C-3 Commercial District. The property is further described as Tax Parcel 8-044-011. It is requested a public hearing be held on April 9, 2019 to consider this request. A memo from Mrs. Potts is attached.
Minutes from the March 12, 2019 regular meeting are provided for review and approval.
6. Presentation by Disaster RecoveryServices.
As requested by the Board of Aldermen, City staff and consultants from Disaster Recovery Services will provide a brief update on the status of FEMA claims and activities associated with Hurricane Florence.
(Wards 1 and 2) Staff has determined it is necessary to amend the approved CDBG program for FY2018. CDBG funds originally budgeted for public services, affordable housing, housing rehabilitation, and demolition will be reallocated as follows:
General Administration – Reduce budget from $48,500 to $42,771
Public Service Set Aside – Eliminate budget of $30,771
Affordable Housing – Revise the activity description from construction of new affordable housing for sale to new affordable rental housing. Increase budget from $32,000 to $200,000.
Housing Rehabilitation – Eliminate budget of $100,000
Demolition – Eliminate budget of $32,000
A memo from Jeff Ruggieri, Director of Development Services is attached.
8. Discussion of NoiseOrdinance.
Attorney Davis will discuss proposed changes to the City’s noise ordinance.
9. Consider Adopting a Resolution Authorizing the City Manager to Execute an Architectural and Engineering Contract for City-Owned Buildings Damaged in HurricaneFlorence.
A Request for Qualifications was issued seeking architectural and engineering services for city-owned buildings damaged during Hurricane Florence. Three proposals were received and reviewed. After scoring, MBF Architects, PA received the overall highest score. The contract amount is not to exceed $57,900. A memo from J.R. Sabatelli, Director of Finance, is attached.
10. ConsiderAcceptingaPetitiontoAnnexPropertyIdentifiedasTaxParcelIDs 8-209-24000, 8-209-24001 and a Portion of 8-209-13001 Owned by Weyerhaeuser NR Company and Adopt a Resolution to Call for a Public Hearing on theAnnexation.
By request dated March 13, 2019, Weyerhaeuser NR Company is seeking annexation of approximately 8.13 acres, which includes Lot 4 of Craven 30 West, West New Bern Parkway and Downey Drive, and a portion of Tax Parcel ID #8- 209-13001 lying between West New Bern Parkway/Downey Drive and NC Highway 43. If the petition is accepted, the Board is asked to call for a public hearing on April 9, 2019 to receive comments on the annexation. A memo from Mrs. Potts is attached.
11. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Ban the Box in Support of Fair Hiring Practices.
At the Board’s February 12, 2019 meeting, a presentation and discussion ensued on the Ban-the-Box movement. After researching and conferring with colleagues, the City Attorney has drafted a resolution to ban the box in support of fair hiring practices. If the resolution is adopted, the “box” asking applicants about convictions other than minor traffic violations will be removed from the City’s employment application effective April 1, 2019. A memo from Sonya Hayes, Human Resources Director, is attached.
12. Consider Adopting a Resolution Awarding the Contract for the Trent Road Substation.
Bank “A” of the Trent Road Substation Transformer has been in service since 1960 and is at the end of its useful life. On behalf of the City, Power Services solicited bids for a replacement based on cost comparison and benefits of each option provided. After reviewing the bids, it was recommended the option identified as Alternate No. 1 be chosen due to significantly lower maintenance and losses as compared to other options. It was also recommended that the bid be awarded to WEB, which provided the best and lowest bid at a cost of $717,594 with IEEE standard impedance. While WEB was not the low first-cost bid, it was the lowest bid based on total ownership cost and lower losses. A memo from Charles Bauschard, Director of Utilities, is attached.
13. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Introduce and Secure Passage of Local Legislation Amending Article Ill – Elections of the CityCharter.
Melani Wray, Director of Craven County Board of Elections, made a presentation at the Governing Board’s February 12, 2019 meeting to review the City’s election options and cost analysis. As a follow-up to that presentation, interest has been expressed to move City elections to even-numbered years, which would yield substantial cost savings. The proposed resolution seeks to introduce and secure
the passage of local legislation to amend Article Ill – “Elections” of the City’s Charter. The amendment would provide that elections be held every four years in even-numbered years beginning in 2020.
14. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving the FY19 EquipmentFinancing.
The budget for FY2018-19 was approved by the Board on June 12, 2018. The budget included various capital vehicle and equipment purchases. A declaration of intent to reimburse was subsequently adopted by the Board, as well as an ordinance establishing the ERP Project Fund for the initial financing of Phase I. Requests for financing proposals were sent to 17 banks. After reviewing the responses received, it is recommended Bank of America Merrill Lynch be selected for the loan. The amount will not exceed $2,534,227, which includes the refinancing of an existing loan for Phase I of the ERP project. The repayment period will be 59 months at an interest rate of 2.6096%, and the loan will close the week of April 1, 2019. A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached.
15. Consider Adopting an Ordinance Establishing the 2019 Electric Improvements ProjectFund.
As noted earlier, the budget for FY2018-19 was approved by the Board on June 12, 2018. The budget included $1,000,000 for the replacement of a transformer at the Trent Road substation. The cost of the new transformer is $718,000 with installation costs of approximately $882,000, foratotalof approximately $1,600,000. Abudgetordinanceis neededtoestablishaprojectfund. The $1,600,000 will be funded through a transfer of $1,000,000 from the Electric Fund’s FY2018-19 budget and a transfer of $600,000 in its FY2019-20 budget. A memo from Mr. Sabatelli is attached.
16. Consider Adopting a Budget Ordinance Amendment for the Electric OperatingFund.
Relative to the previous item, a budget amendment is necessary to reallocate
$1,000,000 from Power Supply to lnterfund Transfers within Electric’s operating fund. These funds will be utilized for the substation improvement.
Carol Williams’ second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and she is ineligible for reappointment. Alderwoman Harris is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three year term.
Rose Williams’ appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission expired February 8, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. Mayor Outlaw is asked to make an appointment to serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides that appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely related field.
Mattie Tatum’s appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission will expire February 22, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. Alderman Bengel is asked to make an appointment to serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides that appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.
Anne Schout resigned from her seat as an alternate on the Board of Adjustment effective March 1, 2019. Alderman Kinsey is asked to make an appointment to fill the remainder of Mrs. Schout’s term, which will expire on November 12, 2021.
The city needs input from the local community and requests assistance from city residents in identifying the community’s resources and unmet needs that exist in the city.
The City of New Bern is preparing its FY 2019-23 Five Year Consolidated Plan and FY 2019 Annual Action plan. These plans are required by HUD so the City can receive its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. The City has retained a planning consulting firm, Urban Design Ventures, LLC, to assist in the preparation of these planning documents.
You can find a resident survey asking for the needs within the city and ideas on what residents would like to see CDBG funds budgeted for. To complete the survey, click here. If you’d like to print out and submit a paper copy, click here.
You can drop off your completed form at Development Services, 303 First St., anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The city will accept surveys until Friday, April 26, 2019. If you have any questions, please contact D’Aja Fulmore, Community Development Coordinator for the City of New Bern, at 252-639-7586 or send an email.
City is seeking a grant to create a new farmers market-type enterprise at the City Market location on First Street. No surprise there.
The city floated the idea years ago when it tried to move the existing Farmers Market from South Front Street to the City Market location. That’s how City Market got its name.
The city backed off a strong-arm approach amid a vigorous opposition from Farmers Market members and customers, and renewed the lease on the facility last year.
The city changed the name of the main building on the First Street property to the Volt Center and partnered with Craven Community College to hold classes there, but documents the city presented to the state for grant funding still called the property “City Market.”
Alderman Sabrina Bengel called it “duplicitous” and was upset that Farmers Market representatives have not been included in the discussion.
The City Market plan would create vendor stalls and food services. The original plan included a band stage.
Residents of the Ghent Neighborhood, which abuts City Market, have worried about the noise and impacts in their neighborhood a busy City Market would create.
N.C. DOT work on U.S. Highway 70 and the Pembroke Road offramp on Monday caused the worst traffic jam in Downtown New Bern in decades on Monday.
The roadwork included closing down the Pembroke offramp. The repaving and repair work being done on U.S. 70 has caused backed up traffic, but the offramp closure compounded the problem by an order of magnitude.
Some motorists had a great idea. Instead of slogging through backed up traffic on 70, they opted to take surface streets and go through the downtown. “Some” being defined as thousands.
The ensuing traffic all converged on the two-lane Cunningham Bridge, creating a funnel effect that magnified the problem.
Traffic was backed up for several miles on Broad Street, Neuse Boulevard, and Trent Boulevard. Many motorists took side streets through neighborhoods to avoid the jam.
Alderman Bobby Aster, during Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, described the event as “unspeakable.”
He said it took one driver one hour and 12 minutes to get from Pollock Street to Cunningham Bridge three blocks away.
City officials said they were caught off guard by the situation and were not contacted by DOT in advance of the closure (cough-cough-there were electric signs all over the place days before-cough).
Aside from that, Aster wondered why the Police Department didn’t do more … or rather, didn’t do anything … to deal with the traffic jam.
“I’m just wondering the reason why our police department didn’t get out and start directing traffic and moving this traffic outside of our city.
He said one citizen stuck at an intersection for 18 minutes saw a police car drive up, turn around and leave.
“…If you think that it’s bad now, wait ’til the construction starts in James City. I hope our Police Department’s got a plan.”
N.C. DOT is getting ready to upgrade U.S. 70 through James City from a surface street with intersections, to a controlled access expressway (jargon for “freeway”) with frontage roads on either side. See video
Aster, a retired fire chief, wondered what would have happened if there was a major accident blocking access. He said the Police Department needs to develop an action plan.
“It’s going to happen again,” he said.
Oldtimers remember when U.S. 70 came through downtown. Traffic was so bad during summer months that downtown workers either left work early or waited until the evening to get home.
Six months after it made landfall, Hurricane Florence’s impacts on New Bern’s economy are still being felt throughout the city, but a new development may delay full recovery for some time.
Hurricane-damaged DoubleTree Riverfront hotel is closed indefinitely over insurance coverage issues related to the hurricane. Downtown New Bern will continue to face its worst economic crisis since 2008-10, when access to downtown was crippled by a bridge replacement and road construction projects.
“Business is definitely down,” said Lynne Harakal, director of Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation, said about Hurricane Florence recovery. “The best information I can provide is revenues are down about 15-20 percent since the hurricane. In retail, that’s a very large hit. Most small retailers have a profit margin of about 10 percent at the end of the year, so if these percentages continue many of our retailers could be in jeopardy.
“Not having the DoubleTree makes this situation even more ominous. Our downtown businesses need the DoubleTree operational. Furthermore, they need the Conventional Center up and running and a thriving Farmers Market to draw customers to our shops and restaurants.”
New Bern Riverfront Convention Center, a top venue for activities ranging from Marine Corps Birthday balls to corporate shareholder meetings, occupies about 3 acres of the downtown frontage on the banks of the Trent River.
The Convention Center was badly damaged during the hurricane, but is aiming to reopen in the fall. A big piece of its marketing plan has been the presence of a full-service hotel right next door—the DoubleTree Riverfront by Hilton.
Sources said there have already been two cancelled bookings at the Convention Center because of the DoubleTree being closed.
The Convention Center and DoubleTree Riverfront occupy a space previously known as Bicentennial Park and, before that, New Bern’s busy waterfront dating to the 1700s. More
Why does the DoubleTree matter? After all, there are two other hotels downtown, and several others elsewhere in the city.
DoubleTree Riverfront, with 171 rooms, is by far the city’s largest hotel. More importantly, it is New Bern’s only full-service hotel. A full-service hotel offers full service accommodations, an on-site restaurant, and personalized service, such as a concierge, room service, and clothes pressing staff.
The DoubleTree was the hotel Alpha in New Bern, occupying the premiere location along the Trent River between the Convention Center and the N.C. History Center.
Once a full-fledged Hilton and, before that, a Sheraton, the $12 million property in New Bern has been operating under Hilton’s DoubleTree flag for several years.
Singh Investment Group owns one other hotel property in North Carolina (all others are in Georgia), the DoubleTree Oceanfront by Hilton in Atlantic Beach. It, too, was severely damaged by Hurricane Florence and remains closed.
Singh Investment has not answered a request to be interviewed by New Bern Post, and local officials say they have not answered their inquiries since January.
In mid-February, the hotel’s general manager attended a Tourism Development Agency meeting and said that due to litigation with the hotel’s insurance carrier over whether it covered damage from wind-driven rain, the hotel might remain closed.
The hotel owners transferred the general manager and two weeks later laid off the entire staff except the sales manager and a couple of maintenance workers. The sales manager worked to cancel remaining bookings.
This puts downtown New Bern in a bad spot. Take the New Bern Grand Marina, for example. It is under separate ownership, but it partnered with DoubleTree to provide amenities to the marina including showers and laundry.
Then, of course, its impacts on Convention Center bookings, and a large hotel staff that has been laid off.
Then there are other effects. A vast, empty parking lot beside a large hotel is not a good indicator of a thriving downtown.
In short, it puts downtown growth and prosperity at serious risk.
Moreover, the longer DoubleTree remains closed, the harder it will be to bring it back into operation. The DoubleTree may very well go from being one of Downtown New Bern’s crown jewels, to a major liability.
It’s sort of like what the Days Hotel did in Five Points. The Days Hotel went from being in business to derelict to being razed over an eight-year span.
Alderman Sabrina Bengel, when asked what the city could do about the hotel, said, “Nothing. It’s private property.”
She equates DoubleTree with the beleaguered SkySail condominiums right next door to the DoubleTrees and the long-vacant Elks Building smack dab in the middle of Downtown New Bern. They, too, are major properties in the downtown that seek solutions and remain vacant or underutilized.
She said DoubleTree’s owners said they are not interested in selling the hotel, and continue to seek a resolution from the insurance carrier.
Meanwhile, the hotel has not reached the level of nuisance abatement, and is current on its taxes, which total just over $120,000 per year.
While it is true that the hotel is private property, current on taxes, and may not have reached a point where it is a public safety hazard, it is demonstrably true that a vacant and empty hotel has an adverse economic impact on the city.
Cities have used that argument to justify employing eminent domain, the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation.
Whether the city has the stomach for that kind of nuclear option depends on how severe impacts become as the DoubleTree Riverfront remains closed.