Residents from North Second, North Third and North Streets in Smithfield expressed their concerns to members of the Smithfield Town Council during their July monthly meeting concerning a proposal to permanently close a section of North Second Street saying they had only recently learned of the plans.
The Town of Smithfield had planned to permanently close North Second Street from North Street to Hospital Road on September 1st to allow for the start of construction on the Smithfield Water Plant expansion project. The plant will need to undergo a year-long expansion to add water treatment capacity to meet future growth. The project is estimated to cost approximately $15.3 million.
With the expansion, North Second would need to be permanently closed near the Water Plant to add additional tanks for sludge and storage. The Greenway would also need to be rerouted. Town staff had also informally discussed adding a Splash Park or Dog Park at the adjacent Talton Park at the corner of North Street and Buffalo Road. The park currently is home to a large soccer field.
Nearby residents asked council members why there not notified about the plans to expand the water plant, the street closing, and discussions on changes to Talton Park.
During a July 10th public hearing, one resident said Smithfield has had several boondoggles in the past including signing up to be a part of ElectriCities, building the Smithfield Recreation & Aquatics Center and selling the wastewater treatment plant off US 301 South. They didn’t want the expansion of the water plant to be another regret.
Part of the need for the water plant expansion is to sell excess capacity to the County of Johnston. One homeowner questioned the need to expand to sell Johnston County more water, saying Johnston County should expand their water plant not Smithfield. Johnston County is the Town of Smithfield’s largest water customer.
Public Utilities Director Ted Credle said the expansion was needed to meet future growth in Smithfield. Credle said the existing plant on North 2nd Street was bordered by wetlands and a blue line stream meaning the only way to expand would be to close North Second and build the addition on what is now a city street.
Other residents express concern about closing the street on September 1, 2018 when the final design of the expansion had not been finished by engineers and construction was still months away.
Mayor Andy Moore apologized to the residents and agreed to hold a Community meeting on Tuesday, July 31st at 6:00pm at the Smithfield Town Hall to specifically address residents concerns and to allow staff to prepare maps to show citizens the proposals being considered – proposals of both the plant location, new Greenway route, and concepts of any changes to Talton Park.
If the street is eventually closed, more traffic will be forced onto North Street and Buffalo Road. One resident asked the Town to make the intersection of North Street and Buffalo Road a three-way stop.