ELIZABETHTOWN — While many folks in Elizabethtown are excited over the opening of the Cape Fear Farmer’s Market and the fresh produce and other activities it will bring, one local businessman is crying foul.
Randy Harris, owner of Melvin’s Hamburgers, has sent a letter to Congressman Mike McIntyre laying out what he claims are causes for local business owners to be concerned about the impact of this project due to a lack of bus and RV parking.
The Bladen Journal obtained a copy of Harris’ letter to McIntrye in which he outlines concerns about the renovation of the former Inman’s Red & White grocery store, effectively removinjg what Harris refers to as bus and RV parking for visitors to the downtown area.
In his letter Harris writes, “For decades, buses, rv’s and visitors towing boats have enjoyed the opportunity to shop downtown Elizabethtown as there was ample parking for these oversized vehicles in the parking lot at the former Red & White, now known as the farmer’s market.”
Harris continues writing that folks have used that parking area because they could pull in and park and then drive straight out without having to back up when they were ready to leave. He claims in his letter that without the use of the former Red & White parking lot for bus and RV parking, this will significantly reduce new visitors. Harris also claims that tour buses and military buses have stopped using the downtown as a stopping point on their journeys.
Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell is taking Harris’ complaint seriously.
“When somebody complains, I always want to look to see if there is a valid complaint,” said Campbell. “We didn’t intend when we did this revitalization to prevent anyone from shopping in the downtown.”
She added that Harris’ concerns do have some validity and the town staff is working to try to locate an area for bus and rv parking.
In a rebuttal to Harris’ letter to McIntyre, Campbell wrote she had spoken with Town Manager Eddie Madden and they are working to find a solution to the problem.
“I am sure we can find a suitable location that would be convenient for downtown,” wrote Campbell. “We certainly want to do EVERYTHING that we can to encourage all people to shop downtown Elizabethtown.”
She added she has spoken with Elizabethtown Police Chief Bobby Kinlaw about the matter and he has suggested the council consider allowing buses and RVs to park on Martin Luther King Drive in front of the Crisis Center Thrift Store. Also, Elizabethtown Town Councilman Charles DeVane has also offered to allow bus, RV and trailer parking on his lot located beside Bladen Tire Company on King Street.
Town Manager Eddie Madden said the town has requested NCDOT look at designating a bus parking area between Wells Fargo Bank and Soo Chic Boutique. He added the town staff is looking for other possible locations for bus and RV parking as well.