Citizens Angry Homes, Businesses Set for Demolition
10th Street Connector Project Draws Sharp Criticism
Greenville residents and business owners packed a Watauga Avenue church Tuesday night, demanding why their properties would be demolished or altered by an ambitious infrastructure project.
The 10th Street Connector has a price tag of $41 million, and will link two of the city's most important areas: East Carolina University and Vidant Medical Center. Currently, no direct road link exists between the two institutions.
Plans in development since 2004 will join Farmville Avenue with 10th Street, widening the thoroughfare and include space for bike paths.
Although a final plan was made for the Connector, property owners told Mayor Allen Thomas and N.C. Department of Transportation Officials they are now learning their buildings and houses are in the path of a wrecking ball.
"I just put in thousands of dollars to my business, and contractors told me the building's coming down," Greenville resident Kenneth Lloyd said at Tuesday's meeting. "I told them, 'this ain't coming down, absolutely no way.'"
Adjustments to the construction plans, including the installation of power lines and telephone poles, increased the number of properties affected by the project. Thirty homes and 20 businesses will be impacted, a number officials said could increase.
When asked why some business owners and residents were only recently notified of the changes, DOT officials took responsibility for the miscommunications.
"We have to improve things going forward," said DOT Inspector Doug Askew. "Most of these places were already impacted and we will work with each person affected."
J.T. Williams is set to lose rental properties along the new one mile 10th Street Connector, but he said generating potential growth for the city is a more important priority.
"In the path of the Connector, there are sections of neighborhoods that are completely boarded up." Williams said in an interview. "Hopefully, the road will spread the wealth by connecting these two vastly important parts of our community."
Most property owners in the project's path have not yet received an estimated price to relocate. DOT representatives said construction will begin October 2013.
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