Pembroke eyes master plan for downtown area

By Michael Gellatly -

Tyler Thomas

PEMBROKE — Hoping to invest in the future of its downtown, the Pembroke Town Council is set to adopt a master plan Monday that officials believe will beautify the area and attract new businesses.

Since January, a team led by Goldsboro-based urban designer and landscape architects Allison Platt & Associates has worked to prepare a master plan for the downtown area of Pembroke. The team also includes The Wooten Company and Locklear, Locklear & Jacobs.

Town officials have a $96,107 grant, so they decided to prioritize projects, build consensus, establish costs, and identify possible sources of additional funding.

Now the 63-page plan is set to go before the council for its approval. The aim is to improve the town’s main thoroughfare, make the area more pedestrian friendly, more attractive to businesses, and to improve utilities, including overhead lighting, revamping the town’s water system and moving overhead utility lines.

The town has held several meetings to get the public’s input on the plan, which incorporates everything from traffic patterns and bicycle lanes to light fixtures and landscaping.

The historic downtown of Pembroke is located between The University of North Carolina at Pembroke campus to the west and the Lumbee Tribal Government headquarters to the east. Within the master plan there are three options for projects laid out at three different price points.

One project focuses on Third Street itself at a cost of $1.6 million. The second, at a cost of around $1 million, looks at improvements to the intersection of Third Street, Main Street and Union Chapel Road. The third project spotlights Main Street and Union Chapel Road.

“These are options within the project area we looked at,” Town Manager Tyler Thomas said. “Financially, we don’t have the capacity to do all three without seeking outside funding. What we are considering is starting with one of those projects and the council will decide which.”

Much of the cost is for renovations to utilities, specifically moving the overhead powerlines on Third Street and upgrading the town’s aging water and wastewater systems.

“Considering costs, these are intimidating numbers,” the plan reads. “But considering that some of the downtown infrastructure needs to be replaced whether or not surface improvements are undertaken, it makes sense to do both. Without surface improvements, property and business owners would have to endure the inconvenience and disruption of replacing the lines … without the benefits that will accrue from redesigned streets.”

Thomas said Friday that the underground utility work will need to be addressed and is included in all three of the plan options.

The Town Council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Pembroke Town Hall.

The town, which has been without a mayor for since Milton Hunt’s death in 2015, will have to wait a bit longer. Greg Cummings was recently declared the winner of a do-over election in March, but those results have yet to be certified.

Tyler Thomas Thomas

By Michael Gellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @MikeGellatly

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @MikeGellatly

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