The streetcar service in Fayetteville is supported by Fayetteville City Council, as stakeholders work out the details of the operation.
The board approved changing an agreement with the Cool Spring Downtown District on Monday night to allow Cool Spring LLC to operate the carts.
Cool Spring Downtown District is a non-profit organization focused on revitalizing the downtown municipal service district, and Cool Spring, LLC is the organization’s partner.
The carts were partially paid for by Fayetteville developer Ralph Huff and his wife, Linda.
Coldwell Banker Advantage shared the second half of the cost. Other associated costs are offset by municipal service district funds, said Bianca Shoneman, president of the Cool Spring Downtown District.
Free rides between Haymount, the B-Street corridor and downtown Fayetteville are currently offered from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen cast the only vote against the streetcar deal, raising concerns about the proposed streetcar route.
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There have been previous discussions about whether the carts will pick up students from Methodist University and Fayetteville State University. Jensen said some school students told city officials two years ago that they had never been downtown.
Jensen said she understands the light rail system is for tourism and downtown business development.
Shoneman said the carts are running on weekends right now. The route connects the transportation hub of the Fayetteville area transportation system to the Franklin Street parking lot, before connecting to an area near Otis Jones Parkway, turning onto Person Street, and stopping in the neighborhood from the Cumberland County Courthouse.
Jensen asked why the courthouse is included as a stop if the carts are meant to go from business to business and promote tourism.
“The reason I’m asking these questions is because our millennials are going to be so thrilled when this happens, and other big cities that you get on the streetcar, you go from business to business, go instead. art, you’re going to eat … ”she said. “We do it from the multimodal center, to the parking lot, to the courthouse on Friday and Saturday evening. ”
Shoneman said the courthouse is an important stop because of its connection to nearby restaurants and proximity to Person Street, which she says is an emerging commercial area.
From the courthouse, the carts head to Eastern Boulevard and turn right onto B Street, toward the Hope 6 project from Old Wilmington Road. Then they turn around and repeat the route, towards Person Street and around the Market House, stopping at places along Hay Street and heading towards Haymount.
Jensen brought forward a motion that died for lack of a second Monday night to postpone the discussion to allow Huff to discuss his intention for the carts.
Shoneman said the proposed route was designed by the Coldwell Banker Advantage team and initially approved by the Huffs, but that she had not had a chance to speak to the Huffs since route issues were raised. raised.
Although she said she appreciated the donations, City Councilor Shakeyla Ingram disagreed with opening the discussion.
“The routes that are currently in place, I think these are routes suited to what we have, given that we are still under a pandemic,” Ingram said, “and there is always room to grow. ”
Shoneman said the carts, operating between the city’s Haymount neighborhood and the B Street corridor, are in the midst of a three-month beta test.
The beta test route, she said, is not a committed route.
Plans also call for expanding services to include Thursdays and Sundays as operations expand.
The route passes through the Ingram Municipal District and includes the Oak Run Apartments.
Shoneman said the driver of the cart, a former FAST driver, monitors ridership and provides information on areas that may not be generating enough passengers.
She said the intention of the streetcar card was to use existing bus stops near museums, parks and attractions instead of creating new locations or creating an “awkward traffic flow that could potentially be dangerous for pedestrians or other vehicles “.
The goal is for the journey to take around 20 to 25 minutes, she said.
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“We don’t want people on the cart for an hour,” Shoneman said. “We want them to be able to quickly connect from the residential node to the central business district, but we also want to make sure it goes to the majority of our community. ”
The route does not alter other aspects of the city’s agreement, which Shoneman says allows Cool Springs LLC to park the carts in the Lamon Street parking lot, use existing bus stops and use official signage for trolleys.
City Councilor Larry Wright said he doesn’t think approval of the deal interferes with any suggestions the Huffs might have on the route.
“I think it’s a big project, and I feel like we have to move forward with it…” Wright said.
Ingram, who brought forward the motion to approve the streetcar deal, said she believed the streetcar was stopping near businesses in Fayetteville.
She said she also thinks it increases ridership by stopping at the courthouse, where people use the county parking lot; stopping to pick up drivers using the Franklin Street parking lot and pick up drivers on Hay Street.
“And you end up with families going up the hill (to Haymount) not because they’re going somewhere but because they want to enjoy the cart,” Ingram said.
Councilor Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, who seconded Ingram’s motion, said she took the cart the first day it was used in Fayetteville and enjoyed it.
“It goes around downtown, all the way to Haymount, around the courthouse and it gives you the ability to jump in, go into a few stores and come back,” said Banks McLaughlin. “I think that’s one of the goals of the wagon.”
Mayor Mitch Colvin said Monday night’s deal was more about Cool Springs LLC using the city’s parking lot instead of approving a streetcar route.
Colvin, however, asked Shoneman to return to the board and said he would love to hear from the Huffs as well as from the board.
City Councilor Yvonne Kinston said she would also like to discuss at a later date what will be done if it rains and if passengers are holding at stops and shops.
Ingram’s motion was approved by Banks-McLaughlin, Colvin, Kinston, Wright, Councilor Tisha Waddell and Councilors Christopher Davis, Johnny Dawkins and DJ Haire.
In other cases,
Kinston put forward a motion to put the appointment of a public works commissioner back on Monday night’s agenda.
Kinston’s motion was seconded by Ingram and also seconded by Banks-McLaughlin, Jensen and Waddell.
He was opposed by Colvin, Dawkins, Haire, Davis and Wright.
The motion failed because it did not get qualified majority approval.
The city’s nominating committee had originally recommended appointing retired Col. Don Porter to the PWC for a term that would have started on October 1 and continued until September 30, 2025.
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Porter has lived in the area for 27 years and was Director of Economic Development for Hoke County for 20 years after retiring from the military.
Colvin, Davis, Dawkins, Haire and Wright seconded motions to nominate Porter at the September 13-27 meetings.
These motions were challenged by Banks-McLaughlin, Ingram, Jensen, Kinston and Waddell.
In a working session on Oct. 4, Kinston put forward a motion to bring Porter and another candidate, Alisa Debnam, for an interview.
Debnam has resided in Fayetteville since 1983 and served as Chair of the Cape Fear Valley Health System Board of Directors and Cumberland County Department of Social Services.
At the October 11 board meeting, Jensen made a motion to table the PWC nomination and, in an October 25 meeting, requested that it be removed from the agenda.
Jensen told council on Oct. 25 that he appeared to be at a crossroads on the issue and said the discussion could be taken up at a committee of councils and commissions meeting.
Editor-in-Chief Rachael Riley can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3528.