Citizen urges action on sidewalk project in Mount Gilead

A sidewalk project more than 15 years on the drawing board in Mount Gilead is moving closer to reality.

The Town of Mount Gilead is working to install a sidewalk on the east side of N.C. Hwy. 73 from the railroad bridge to Parkertown Rd. The acquisition of right-of-way on this property at 510 N. Main St., Mount Gilead, N.C., is the last remaining piece in this phase of the project. (image © Google Maps)

The Town of Mount Gilead is working to install a sidewalk on the east side of N.C. Hwy. 73 from the railroad bridge to Parkertown Rd. The acquisition of right-of-way on this property at 510 N. Main St., Mount Gilead, N.C., is the last remaining piece in this phase of the project. (image © Google Maps)

The sidewalk will extend from the N. Main St. railroad bridge to Parkertown Rd., and the final piece of the puzzle is right-of-way on a single lot owned by Tracey Lemonds of Troy. The need for the sidewalk has been stressed by many people over the years, most recently by local resident Woodrow Steele, who addressed Mount Gilead Town Commissioners at their meeting last Tuesday.

“It has come to my attention at least twice last week about somebody about to get hit up there,” said Steele.

Steele said the sidewalk had been an issue for the past five or six years, but Town Manager Katrina Tatum said the project actually dates back nearly two decades.

“It has been 17 years, and we’re closer now, in the last three years, than we have been in the previous 15 years,” said Tatum. “I just want to clarify that it hasn’t just been sitting on my desk. For three years prior to that, it was in the Mayor’s hands.”

Tatum said there remains a substantial difference of opinion about the value of the property in question.

“The owner asked for $5,500. The appraiser indicated a value of $300. I met with the appraiser myself and he indicated that there is no way that he can add any more value to a taking. If the town does not pay the appraised value, we have to come up with a suitable justification for not paying it. (The appraiser) firmly stands on his valuation, so I have asked Mr. Wilhoit to offer $1,500. If the owner does not accept, a DOT (Declaration of Taking) will be filed.”

If the offer is not accepted, the town does plan to move forward with a Declaration of Taking, which might allow the project to move forward if a judge agrees the work is in the best interest of the public. Tatum indicated she had been unable to find an attorney in Montgomery or Anson County willing to take on the case.

Still, Woodrow Steele said the work is needed at any cost, and he urged Town Commissioners to pay Lemonds whatever he is asking.

He concluded, “What is a dollar bill, compared to a person’s life? I hope not, but I’m pretty sure somebody’s gonna to get run over up there, gonna get seriously injured, and since this is an issue in Mount Gilead, this town is gonna have a lawsuit on them they ain’t gonna be able to pay.”

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