April 9, 2015 – Havelock News, By Drew C. Wilson
The mayors of the state’s five military host cities have signed a joint letter to Gov. Pat McCrory requesting $1 million in support.
The cities, including Havelock, would share the money and put it toward the purchase of land to prevent encroachment of the bases as well as toward efforts for improvements to local and regional infrastructure. Money would also be used for partnerships among bases and cities to provide solutions to problems that impact the quality of life around the bases.
The letter acknowledges that $1 million had already been given to the N.C. Military Affairs Commission, but the mayors asked for $1 that would specifically go to the host cities, which include Havelock, home to Cherry Point, Jacksonville, home to Camp Lejeune and New River, Goldsboro, home to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Fayetteville, home to Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, and Elizabeth City, home to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Havelock Mayor Will Lewis said he and the four other mayors had been exchanging emails to hash out the details of the letter over a period of weeks. Once complete, Lewis traveled to Jacksonville to see Mayor Sammy Phillips, Goldsboro to see Mayor Alfonzo King, and to Fayetteville to see Mayor Nat Robertson and caught up with Elizabeth City mayor Joseph Peel in Burgaw to get the letter signed.
“They have a lot of the same mind frame that we do in Havelock as far as our responsibilities to our various military installations,” Lewis said.
The five cities are part of the Military Host Cities organization, which aims to have a collective voice to build partnerships among the cities and military and to air concerns or issues that they have in common. The goal is to identify problems and collaborate on solutions to ensure the long-term future of the bases, Lewis said.
If the state does decide to provide funding to the group, Havelock’s share could be used for the purchase of property to further prevent encroachment around Cherry Point. The city has previously used its own money to help with property purchases.
“The Boulia tract, back behind Woodhaven, we put money into that to get that property. We paid legal fees,” Lewis said. “We paid legal fees for the Lewis Farm Road tract. We provide a lot of in-kind work. Sometimes we pay for the surveys. Sometimes we pay for environmental assessments on the properties.”
The city has paid from $3,000 to $15,000 to get the properties.
“And of course we carry the burden of maintaining those properties forever,” Lewis said. “Anything that needs to be done there, or any problems in the future, all fall on us, so it’s just one example of real dollars.
“Every municipality that is next to an installation has things that they spend money on to support the citizens on that installation that we don’t really get a tax base from. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously. We’d do it no matter what, but it would be nice if the state would recognize that and participate with us to make sure we’re doing what we need to around the installations.”
For example, Lewis pointed out the role that Fayetteville recently took in providing maintenance and upkeep for the Special Forces Museum because Fort Bragg could not afford to keep the museum open.
“Fayetteville went through the process and now has the contract, and as a city they can get it done at a much lower cost than the federal government can get it done, and now the museum can stay open,” Lewis said. “Those kinds of partnerships are ultimately going to cost Fayetteville money. However, it’s good for Fayetteville and it’s good for Fort Bragg. Those are the kinds of partnerships that cost all of our municipalities money, real tax dollars, but we do it because we believe in it and we just want the state to participate with us. We could do more, I think, if the state was participating.”
The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.