Matthews sets sights on next year’s projects

MATTHEWS – It’s the accomplishments of 2013 that have inspired the Matthews Board of Commissioners’ goals for 2014.

Town leaders are proud of the progress and decisions made last spring with the widening of South Trade Street. They’re pleased to see a 15-year-long dream finally come true in the recently opened Mecklenburg County Sportsplex off Tank Town Road in Matthews. But both projects, though one step closer, still have a way to go before completion, and the board has more discussion and work to do on the development of the town’s new entertainment district, which will sit adjacent to the sportsplex.

That’s why town leaders, like Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor and Commissioner Jeff Miller, see their plans in 2014 focused on continuing to make Matthews a premier town in Mecklenburg County and seeing some of the area’s most important projects come to fruition.

But first, they’ll spend the beginning of 2014, along with Commissioner Kress Query, getting new Mayor Pro-tem Joe Pata and Commissioners John Higdon, Chris Melton and John Ross acclimated with town and state rules and procedures.

“First thing and foremost is getting the four new members and the rest of the board to come together and work together as a team to continue Matthews to be the best place to live,” Taylor said of what needs to be done in 2014. The new board members, who were sworn in at the town’s Dec. 9 meeting, already had town orientation and have plans to attend training in January for newly elected officials – just in time for the board’s annual planning conference in February. No more meetings are planned this month, so the new board hasn’t had a chance to work together yet, Taylor said, but he’s expecting the new commissioners will have some of the same goals in mind, as well as a few of their own, he hopes.

“Right now, they’re just learning the ropes,” Taylor said. “They all ran as individuals (in the election), but we have to act as a group. We have to work together to make any ideas come true.”

One major project Taylor and other town leaders are hoping to make gains on in 2014 is the widening of South Trade Street. Earlier this year, town leaders voted, after weeks of tabling the issue for more discussion and research, to finally move forward on the widening of the congested stretch just north of Matthews United Methodist Church to right beyond the intersection with Chesney Glen Drive and the Matthews Athletic and Recreation Association. The $5.2 million project is an alternative to the original $7.7 million planned widening of South Trade to its intersection with Pleasant Plains and Weddington roads. The modified version cuts out widening the road along a culvert at Four Mile Creek.

Now, since South Trade Street is technically a North Carolina Department of Transportation-owned road, Matthews leaders hope to strike a deal with state officials next year to put out the more than $2 million to finish the project off.

“This is a state road, but it’s a Matthews problem, and Matthews is spending $5.5 million to improve a state road, and we need (the state) to kick-in funds to replace the culvert,” Miller said. “Why? Because it’s a state road and the culvert redesign would include a greenway walkway through it… We’re still going to have a bottleneck at the culvert unless we convince the state to pay their share.”

Both Miller and Taylor also hope to see more discussion on the Matthews entertainment district by the sportsplex. With the second phase of the sportsplex already under way, town leaders are eager to start planning for new restaurants, shops, stores and potentially hotels to come to that district.

“We have our planning conference in February where we plan and prioritize,” Miller said of top projects residents can expect in 2014. “I’m not concerned on getting the new members up to speed until then. They are intelligent men, capable of making good decisions.”


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