Rockingham nears halfway mark on improvement plan

By: By Gavin Stone - Staff Writer
Daily Journal file photo Rockingham officials will soon be soliciting bids to replace the fountain in Harrington Square.

ROCKINGHAM — The city has taken significant steps towards completing the goals set forth in its 10-year plan started in 2013, with just over two-thirds of the original objectives completed or underway as it nears the half-way mark this year, according to Assistant City Manager John Massey.

There are seven goals in “Shaping Our Future: 2023.” Once completed, city leaders will check the eighth item off the list: “Make Rockingham a destination.”

Massey said the plan factors into nearly all key decisions made by the planning board, ranging from the annual budget to day-to-day recommendations made by the planning board.

“It’s important to know that this plan was created with considerable citizen input,” Massey said. “When we base our decisions on this document, we’re essentially implementing what our citizens want to see in our community.”

The goals include: improving the local economy through efforts to attract new and grow existing businesses; increase tourism opportunities; improve aesthetics of the community; protect historic resources and natural areas; and revitalizing downtown.

Notable successes that have been made since the plan was adopted on July 9, 2013 are: improving aging water infrastructure; splitting the Chamber of Commerce and the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority so RCTDA can be more aggressive in marketing the county; working with Richmond Community College to provide a satellite campus in downtown Rockingham; pursuing the “Long Drive Alternate” connector road between Clemmer Road and Mount Olive Church Road; and adding more art and sculptures to the downtown area.

In the update Massey provided to the board, it stated that the city has budgeted funds to replace the “antiquated” fountain on Harrington Square, and will go out to bid soon. The fountain “will contain a pre-cast decorative bowl and sphere,” according to the update. Additionally, the Richmond Arts Council is planning “several” other murals downtown like the one on the side of Brent Garner’s law office.

Councilmember Denise Sullivan, who served on the plan’s steering committee, said she was proud of the city’s progress.

“Seeing all of the things that we were asking ourselves to achieve — we should all be proud,” Sullivan said. “We worked hard to do it and the next five years should fall into place as well.”

Yet to be completed are the are the public recreation objectives listed in the update:

• Funding is not yet available for the proposed recreation complex planned for the corner of Old Aberdeen Road and Richmond Road Ext.

• The proposed campground near the Diggs Tract has yet to be constructed, though all other proposed improvements to the Hitchcock Creek Blue Trail have been completed.

• The next phases of the Hitchcock Creek Greenway, which would connect to downtown, Civitan Park and nearby neighborhoods.

City Manager Monty Crump also noted that the “low-hanging fruit” of building new city gateway signs had “fallen through the cracks.”

The city approved putting the old library building on the corner of Leak Street and Lawrence Street up for public auction. The building was the city library in the early 1980s and was last used by the Sandhills Community Action Program, which vacated the property in late January.

Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]

Daily Journal file photo Rockingham officials will soon be soliciting bids to replace the fountain in Harrington Square. Journal file photo Rockingham officials will soon be soliciting bids to replace the fountain in Harrington Square.

By Gavin Stone

Staff Writer