Conway City Council hopes to remedy the problem of having visitors drive right through Conway without knowing their city has a historic downtown and a great marina.
To that end, they’ve contracted with Signs Etc., out of Charlotte, N.C., to build and place 84 wayfaring signs around the city pointing visitors to everything from schools, to the city hall and more.
Sherry Brower with Signs Etc. said the 10-foot tall green signs, each bearing the city’s logo, a destination and an arrow, will begin about two to three miles away from downtown and direct people there and to the river.
Conway will pay Signs Etc. $174,630 for Phase 1 of the project that incudes 84 signs. Conway expects to pay another $21,750 for encroachment, field survey, designs and shop drawings. Phase 2 includes 27 signs at $98,920. Total cost of the services of Signs Etc. is $295,300.
Brower said it will take about six months to get all of the signs in place, and Conwayites probably won’t see the first ones going up until August.
The signs are expected to be erected at many of the intersections along U.S. 378 and U.S. 501, but they are also planned for Main Street at 12th and 16th avenues; U.S. 701 North at Sherwood Drive, Millpond Road, Boundary Street and Cultra Road; Laurel Street at Elm Street and Second, Third and Fourth avenues; Main Street in front of the Chamber of Commerce; Elm Street at Second, Third and Fourth avenues; and more.
Much of the second phase moves to areas in East Conway on U.S. 501 at Singleton Ridge Road, Century Circle, University Boulevard and Fourth Avenue; S.C. 544 at University Boulevard and Founders Drive; U.S. 501 business at S.C. 544 and S.C. 90 and near Depot Road; and more.
Brower said she hopes that people who see the signs will be encouraged to slow down and explore Conway.
More annexation, rezonings
Only two people chose to speak at public hearings on annexation and rezoning of large parcels on Cultra Road and Four Mile Road before Conway City Council unanimously approved both of them.
Monday’s meeting also included approvals for rezoning a parcel on U.S. 378 where developer Jamie McLean hopes to build an industrial park.
Olin Hill, who lives on Four Mile Road, wanted council to consider the impact of flooding and traffic that he believes will be exacerbated by the rezoning of 65.05 acres on Four Mile Road.
Hill said 10 or 15 years ago, people began to build their houses up higher and that has caused water to run off of their property onto him and some of his neighbors.
He also spoke up for the preservation of trees because, he says, nobody is considering how much water one tree can suck up in just one day.
He said council needs to plan better for the future impact that development will have and pointed to Carolina Forest as an area that is suffering because development came too fast without an adequate plan for roads.
He said 20/20 hindsight doesn’t serve anyone well.
Betty Benton said she’s lived in her home on Four Mile Road since 1971 and never had any problems with flooding until Country Manor was built. Now, she believes water running under her house is going to rot it out. She has already been forced to buy a sump pump, but even that isn’t enough, she said.
“That’s my home that I’ve worked and paid for…” she said.
Although Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy didn’t explain, she told the Four Mile residents that the city has done some preliminary work that might make them feel better and suggested that they call city planner Mary Catherine Hyman for an update.
Councilman William Goldfinch said council has been round and round with developers about flooding, but experts tell them that they’re required to maintain all of the runoff on their developments, so nearby residents are better off with development than with leaving land in its natural state.
Blain-Bellamy said Conway is still in its observation phase and, “We’re just doing the best we can. We do depend on people that know better than we do.”
She also said that council will be the first to admit that they have as many questions as they do answers, but they’re making decisions on the best information they can get.
Also getting unanimous approval Monday night was the annexation and R-2 rezoning of 60.5 acres along Cultra Road, and R-2 zoning for 5.5 acres on Cultra Road that are already in the city limits.
The Four Mile Road and Cultra Road areas were both rezoned to R-2, medium density residential that allows attached, detached, semi-attached and multi-family residential development.
Conway City Councilwoman Jean Timbes was absent from Monday’s meeting.
Conway’s council also agreed to hire a company to begin planning on a new City Hall in the area between the present City Hall, Laurel Street, Second Avenue and Main Street.
City planner Mary Catherine Hyman said 14 companies submitted bids for the project after the city put out a request for bids in February. A committee interviewed representatives from six companies and whittled the list to two.
The group ultimately recommended to council that they hire Stubbs Muldrow Herin Architects (SMHa), the same company that designed the Mt. Pleasant Town Hall.
Hyman said according to the contract, the first thing the company will do is study the area to see what’s already here and what the City of Conway needs.
Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy said, “This is just a beginning, but it’s a good beginning.”