Letter – Town Council disappoints

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

The Smithfield Town Council (TC) vote to name Windsor Castle Park (WCP) trails after Carter Williams is the most recent example of Mayor Steve Bowman’s flagrant disregard for citizen input and this TC allowing the behavior to continue.

Not only was no citizen input solicitated; no citizen input was allowed in this pre-planned, fast-tracked process. In TC committee meeting Feb. 26, Mayor Bowman “suggests’ naming all trails in WCP in honor of his predecessor. One week later, with no public hearing, TC votes in favor of this resolution under the consent agenda.   

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While Carter Williams may enjoy and assist with the trails, the current and former town councils have reneged on their commitment to complete Smithfield’s .7-mile portion of the Park to Park Trail (along South Church Street) to connect it to downtown. Since 1996 town and county citizens and staff worked to identify options for non-vehicular travel in the county. In 2006 a County Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan was developed. The trail identified as the highest priority, allowing safe pedestrian access with the greatest impact, was from Nike Park to Windsor Castle Park.  

The 4.2-mile Park to Park Trail would connect thousands of citizens with two significant parks, shopping, restaurants and services. The county and town both committed staff and resources to bring the trail to fruition.  

In 2013 Mayor Williams signed a resolution to use $1.2 million in Urban Allocation (UA) funds to develop Segment 3 – .7 miles from Battery Park Road to the Cypress Creek bridge.  

Eleven years later the county has developed the 3.5 miles from Nike Park to South Church Street, primarily with state funding specific to non-vehicular projects.   

The town used the $1.2 million, committed in 2013, for other projects – a turn lane into Luter Sports Complex (LSC) and development of a new intersection.  

It’s time for the town to recognize the need for integrity and transparency in all its actions, for citizens to vote in November for leaders who will represent their interests, and for the town to ask the county to take the lead in seeking funding to complete the Park to Park Trail.  


Leah Walker