With rising costs in utilities and costly effects from the much-maligned 2011 Mecklenburg County property tax revaluation weighing heavily on Matthews, Mayor Jim Taylor said the town is increasingly forced to do more with less resources.
But despite the struggle, Taylor says the town is still attracting new businesses and development, making Matthews a premiere location for families to live and work.
“We are very optimistic about the town of Matthews,” Taylor said at the Aug. 14 Matthews Chamber of Commerce luncheon. “We are in a position now to actually pick and choose the type of development that comes to the town. We can’t and we shouldn’t accept (just) anything a developer would want to put here.”
Taylor shared with area business leaders topics surrounding economic development in the town, an update on the town’s coveted sports complex project and town transportation plans – including the recently approved widening of South Trade Street.
The town will fund $5.2 million in improvements to a section of South Trade Street, which should be completed in 2016, including the widening of approximately half a mile portion of the road from Matthews United Methodist Church to just south of the Matthews Athletic Recreation Association. The improvements will include a portion of Fullwood Lane near the intersection of Fullwood and South Trade streets. Once completed, the South Trade Street stretch will include four lanes with landscaped medians.
Other transportation topics include the recent approval from Matthews commissioners to participate in an inter-local agreement with Mint Hill and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to build a roundabout at the Idlewild Road/N.C. 51 intersection. According to the agreement, both towns will pay $162,500 toward the estimated $1.6 million project, with about $1.3 million stemming primarily from federal funding. Two lanes – a left turn/thru lane and a right turn/thru lane – will feed into the roundabout from both the northbound and southbound sides of N.C. 51, according to draft plans. Both sides of Idlewild Road would have a single left turn/thru lane and a right turn-only lane feeding into the roundabout.
“Roundabouts are wonderful, but the issue is people getting used to them,” Taylor said to area business leaders about residents’ hesitation to accept the project. “But once you get used to the learning curve, they are great.”
With a full plate this fall, Taylor is excited to see the town continue to succeed, he said, with various beautification projects happening or recently completed around town, the return of the Matthews Alive! Festival (this year kicking off Aug. 30) and the anticipation of the town’s new Mecklenburg County Regional Sportsplex, a partnership with county parks and recreation and the town, which is scheduled to open this October, weather
permitting, Taylor said..
“They’ve already started scheduling games and practices out there,” Taylor said of the new five synthetic athletic fields, which include lighting, restrooms and a playground. “This is going to be an economic boom for the town of Matthews and Mecklenburg County,” adding the town also is working with the private sector on developing an adjacent property to the complex to have a family entertainment center.
“I feel it’s our obligation to do everything we possibly can to give businesses the resources to be successful,” Taylor said. “Over 80 percent of people are satisfied with town services we provide. The main challenge is maintaining the services with less and less resources… It’s amazing to me what the town of Matthews actually is – we continuously get comments from people who are looking to come here.”
The next luncheon meeting of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce is Sept. 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Carmel Baptist Church and will feature Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison. Find more information at www.mattthewschamber.org.