La Grange town manager outlines major projects

La Grange town manager outlines major projects

Photo by Linda Whittington

La Grange Town Manager John Craft recently sat down for an interview to discuss a new veterans memorial, the impact of a new bypass and an impending sewer restoration project.

"Unfortunately we're not unique in this, but the Town of La Grange has sewer pipes that were installed in the 1920s," Craft said. "Over the years holes and cracks have developed in those pipes, so when it rains we have a problem with infiltration and inflow. Infiltration is anything that seeps in over a period of time, while inflow is a fast rush of water."

In 2004, the town did $2.4 million worth of renovations on the sewer system to address the problem. 

"The 2004 renovations helped to an extent," Craft said. "But since then either the technology utilized at the time has failed or other issues have developed."

Craft said the town has retained an engineering firm and installed flow monitors in an attempt to pinpoint the areas most prone to infiltration and inflow. 

"We're in the process of applying for grants and loans for this sewer project through the United States Dept. of Agriculture," Craft said. "The target date for the Town of La Grange to formally submit it's application is July 3, which based on the USDA's schedule would put us in the queue roughly a month before those funds will be allocated. If the funding is approved, then the planning and environmental assessments would start."

Craft estimates it would be six to nine months after the planning process commences before pipe replacements would begin, with the project being completed sometime in 2020.

"We're also in the process of building two more wells to supplement and secure our water supply for the next 60 years," Craft said. "We anticpate spending approximately $2 million on well and water system improvements, along with $4-6 million on wastewater collections system improvements, depending on the amount of grant funding we receive and interest rates at the time."

Another long-gestating project that will impact the businesses and residents of La Grange is the much publicized bypass project.

"Future Interstate 42 will be U.S. 70," Craft said. "With any bypass, when you take cars out of town it has an initial negative effect on businesses. When they built the bypass years ago and took U.S. 70 out of La Grange, we saw the vast majority of our negative impact back then. More recently when they built the Goldsboro bypass that ties in just outside of La Grange, the state generated models of what they expect will happen adjacent to the new roadwork. There is a projected growth of commercial and residential development around that intersection."

Craft says there will be some initial pain connected to the upcoming Kinston bypass, but believes it will be good for everyone in the long run. 

"We expect there to be growth in the Little Baltimore area in particular," Craft said. "According to the last information we received from the state, the acquisition of the right-of-way would begin in 2023."

The last few years have seen the old softball field in La Grange transformed into a multi-purpose community area and concert venue with adjacent water park. The next step in it's evolution involves paying tribute to military veterans in the form of a memorial.

"Some prep work on the veterans memorial has already begun," Craft said. "Concrete will be poured soon."

Along with the American flag and a P.O.W. flag, the memorial will feature flags from each branch of the armed forces. Additionally, a monument honoring all military veterans will be constructed.

"People will be able to buy bricks in memory of loved ones or any veterans that have served our country," Craft said. "If people would like to purchase a memorial brick, they can so at La Grange Town Hall and forms are available online at www.LaGrangeNC.com. Any bricks that are paid for before the monument is unveiled will be part of the initial ceremony. Afterwards we'll add any new memorial bricks once a year on veterans day."

Contact Jon Dawson at jon@neusenews.com and www.jondawson.com.

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