GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — “We’ve got to stop promising people pie in the sky. It’s time to deliver,” said Councilmember Sharon Hightower.
She is talking about putting plans into action for East Greensboro. The city spent two years getting feedback from people in neighborhoods around East Gate City Boulevard, and they put together a 45-page plan. It was unanimously approved by the city council.
So what happens next?
There is no set timeline for when the plan will be implemented. But the focus on the area will be at the corner of East Gate City Boulevard and Benbow Road because that is where the new Windsor Chavis Nocho Community Complex will be built.
Construction is expected to begin in early 2025. Hightower says she hopes to get some other smaller projects started by the same time.
“I think it is critically important that we start to focus on one of the major thoroughfares into the city,” Hightower said. It’s the gateway into and out of Greensboro.
“When we first moved here, traffic was kind of slow and slack, but nowadays, come here at five in the evening, and it is flooded with cars,” said Ronald Davis, who has lived off of East Gate City Boulevard for about 30 years. “Walking up Gate City Boulevard is dangerous.”
Safety is a priority for Hightower.
“We need those sidewalks. We need to be able to walk safely in our communities to be able to access certain amenities we already have like our Hayes Taylor YMCA, Barbara Park and Gateway Garden,” Hightower said.
Another item at the top of her list is more investments like a shopping center, grocery store and restaurants.
Davis can agree about the shops but says he doesn’t want too much to change. He has lived in his home since the 1990s. Like many of his neighbors, they are concerned the changes could lead to gentrification. That is something that is accounted for in the plan by offering current residents more rental assistance and homeownership programs.
“We thought a plan to guide the future of this area would be beneficial based on some of the investment we are seeing, based on the importance of the road and based on the historical neighborhoods we have around here,” said Hart Crane, a senior planner for the City of Greensboro.
The biggest obstacle in making the plan happen: where does the city get the money?
“I know people don’t want to hear this word, but we are going to have to start to look at maybe some other bonds,” Hightower said.
She says bonds will take some burden off the taxpayers.
“We are going to have to find some other creative financing streams to have the investment that we need because … It takes money. We also have to have a commitment to finding that money and spending that money in areas that have been underserved for years,” Hightower said.
On the nearly three-and-a-half-mile stretch, repaving roads, adding affordable housing, connecting the neighborhoods and improving pedestrian and bike safety will all come at a cost.
“That is where the city steps in … How much money we are going to commit and then how we are going to make sure that it’s sustainable and long-lasting,” Hightower said.
Right now, those conversations are happening at city departments and within the city council to determine the funding and when some of these updates outlined in the plan could take effect.
The city encourages you to share your priorities during this process. Check out the full plan here.