A large number of people turned out for a community meeting Monday night in Four Oaks to protest a proposed CSX hub.
Concerned citizens packed into the Four Oaks Elementary School gymnasium to express concerns about how an intermodal terminal would have a negative impact on the surrounding areas.
Organizers said the event was held to give the public an opportunity to express their opinions about the railroad terminal, saying only 13 people were allowed to speak during a Four Oaks Town Board Meeting on April 11th.
Johnston County Commissioner Chairman Tony Braswell, Commissioner Chad Stewart, and County Manager Rick Hester was among those who attended the event Monday night. Four Oaks Mayor Linwood Parker was not present, however at least one Four Oaks town commissioner was in the audience.
Prior to Monday night’s meeting, Mayor Parker issued a press release.
“On Friday (April 15th), the Mayor and members of the Johnston County Economic Development Office and Representative Leo Daughtry met to discuss the project with the Department of Commerce and Department of Transportation. As everyone knows there are people in opposition of this project as well as people who are in support of the project,” Mayor Parker said.
“There are property owners who have signed a commitment; property owners who indicated they would talk to the railroad if they choose to come and there are people who are adamant that they would not sell their property. At the meeting we informed the state officials of our progress, as well as the mounting opposition to the project. It is now up to Governor McCrory and the railroad to reach a decision about the location of this project.”
“I would like to thank the people who have voiced their support as well as thank the railroad for their consideration of a large financial package for the affected property owners. I would like to also thank the people who have entered into a honest debate on this issue.”
“From the beginning I have looked at this from a futuristic and historical perceptive,” Parker stated. “In the future, based on analysis with top economist and Department of Commerce, this project could attract 8,000 jobs in five years and 20,000 jobs in fifteen years. The track of land cornering I-40 and I-95 contains thousands of acres of undeveloped land that could be sites for manufacturing and distribution centers for years to come.”
“From a historic prospect, I only have to look at our town to know what can happen when the railroad builds a depot, in the instance of Four Oaks where business, churches and schools were created. If our forefathers could have accomplished this, it was my belief we could too and thereby leave our children an opportunity to compete in the global economy.”
“I never believed the world would come to an end if this project did not come to Four Oaks and I never believed the streets would be paved in gold if it did. No matter what the result, we will get up and continue to move our town and community forward. Thank you to all who have participated in this process.”
Mayor Parker has asked CSX to made a decision by this Friday on whether they are planning to locate in Four Oaks. CSX officials have not responded publicly to the mayors request. Photos by John Payne