PEMBROKE — Pembroke may finally have a mayor on Monday.
After elections, recounts, re-dos, and 18 months with a vacant chair, the town is planning an installation ceremony at 6 p.m. Monday at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Economic Development Incubator for mayor-elect Gregory Cummings.
Last month, the state Board of Elections upheld Cummings’ victory over protests from runner-up Allen Dial. There are still a few days left in which Dial can appeal the state’s decision, although he has said he does not intend to.
Councilman Channing Jones has been serving as mayor pro tem since the death of Pembroke’s late mayor, Milton Hunt, in April 2015.
“I’m very excited, it’s been a long journey,” Cummings said, addressing the council Monday. “I’m excited to work with the council and to get this plan going.”
The plan Cummings referred to was the master plan, which the Pembroke Town Council unanimously accepted Monday evening.
The council heard a presentation from Chad Easter, project manager for engineering firm The Wooten Group, on the document the municipality hopes can spur the town’s economic revitalization.
“This has been an eight-month process,” Jones said. “What I hope our citizens, what our businesses heard from this is that we are setting forward a workable document to move forward. We are excited about this. This is a great first step for the town as we look towards growth and improvement. We know it’s going to pay great dividends in the future.”
Easter presented the plan in a detailed, 25-minute presentation to the council. In closing, he urged the council to take action and start moving forward as soon as possible.
“The potential that this area has is significant,” Easter said. “First and foremost it must have the support of the community. The public sector must demonstrate commitment to the plan. There are funding options immediately available for small improvements … It is important to get the ball rolling.”
Easter said that small grants for improvements such as bike paths and art projects like murals are available.
The plan includes immediate, intermediate and long-term work for the town, with emphasis on making the main thoroughfare of Third Street more pedestrian friendly, more attractive to outside investors and improve utilities running through the area.
“Design guidelines have been prepared to try and shape future development,” Easter said, framing the plan as a working document that will be referred to for years to come.
The council praised the plan, and they were not alone.
“First let me comment and compliment the council. This is vision, folks. This makes me very proud,” said UNCP Chancellor Robin Cummings. “Whatever resources we can commit to this … you let us know where to be, what to bring, and we will be there.”
In other business, the council agreed to hold public hearings related to zoning for solar farms in general and a proposed used car lot. The hearings will be heard at the council’s next regular meeting, scheduled for Nov. 7.
Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @MikeGellatly.