Tryon Eastside residents say neighborhood being ignored

Published 10:00 pm Monday, February 27, 2017

TRYON – After last month’s packed town council meeting with mostly Eastside residents in attendance and concerns raised by the Eastside Citizen’s Advisory Committee, Dr. Warren Carson came to last week’s meeting to say the concerns have been ignored. Tryon Town Council met Tuesday, Feb. 21 and heard from Carson during citizen comments at the end of the meeting.

Carson reminded council that at the conclusion of the Jan. 17 meeting, Wanda May challenged council to come back to the February meeting with some answers or responses at least to the numerous concerns raised at the January meeting. Carson said so far tonight, Feb. 21, the town has mentioned very little.

“Further, on Feb. 10, I delivered on behalf of the Eastside Citizen’s Advisory Committee to the mayor, council and town manager, a streamlined list of our ongoing concerns,” Carson said. “To date, we have received no response. Not even the courtesy of acknowledging receipt of those concerns. That in itself is not unusual.”

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Carson listed other documents delivered by the Eastside committee provided in September 2015, November 2015 and again on Sept. 6, 2016.

“So, there’s a pattern of generally ignoring our concerns,” Carson said.

Carson said the document on Feb. 10 contained questions about code enforcement, particularly some needs on Cleveland Road, Peake Street and East Howard Street where at least seven dilapidated houses within half a mile need attention. Other issues are overgrown lots with four on East Howard, one on Peake Street, one on Markham and a number of others, according to Carson.

“The reason we looked at this on a prioritized list is because we do not need to wait until summer to be discussing what can be done with the overgrown lots,” Carson told council.

Carson also said there are other issues including deteriorating streets, such as Shepherd, Aspen and Cleveland; situations with dumping on vacant lots; communication and customer service, where residents express concern and never receive follow-up; junk cars; and speeding.

Carson said he spoke with police chief Jeff Arrowood and at least that issue is being worked on.

He also said commissioner Bill Ingham, after sitting through a long meeting and being the only representative from the town, went out with Carson on the Eastside so he could point out issues in the area.

“Commissioner Ingham was sitting in the car with me when a car came barreling down East Howard Street and had we not been on the side of the road, we would’ve gotten mowed over,” Carson said. “These are not frivolous concerns that we keep bringing year after year, month after month, week after week, day after day. They need some serious attention. If indeed we are all neighbors and friends, as commissioner Ingham mentioned in his opening remarks, I have to say, neighbors and friends don’t ignore other neighbors and friends when they are in need.”

Other concerns on the Eastside were also raised by residents during the meeting.

Marie Booker Littlejohn said someone had a cookout at the park on Markham Road about three weeks ago and they placed the garbage where it should be.

“Why is it still there?” Littlejohn asked council.

She said she knows the garbage truck driver sees it as they drive by.

Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said he would like to know the same thing and commissioner Ingham said the town will address it.

Sybil Simpson also said during the trash pick-up on Tuesday cans were thrown everywhere and people had to get out of their cars and move them to get through the street. She said she’s had problems getting out of her driveway.

A couple others in the audience also mentioned issues on the Eastside. Peter Piacente said maybe the town needs to do a cleanup day for the Eastside like it does for the cemetery.

Peoples said the town has done that in the past. Carson also said the Eastside community does a clean up day every year.

Emily Clark asked when Carson would get a schedule from the town or at least some kind of attention. She asked how Carson’s requests fit into the town manager’s prioritization list.

Town manager Zach Ollis said he planned on getting back to Carson the next day and some of the Eastside issues are on his prioritization list.

Clark suggested volunteers to help get some of the issues taken care of.

“It does appear the town doesn’t care,” said Clark.

She said that if the town doesn’t meet a deadline the town should come up with a schedule.

“I recognize it’s a manpower issue but that’s been going on for years,” Clark said.

Commissioner Bill Crowell said the dilapidated houses are $10,000 each to tear down.

“Do you want us to raise taxes?” Crowell asked.

Crowell said the town doesn’t have the money and it’s really about money and the town’s tax base.

Clark said those facts need to be made more known because it comes across as the town simply doesn’t care.

“Let’s just make small steps to get there,” Clark suggested.

Joyce Kimpton said speeding and inaction doesn’t just happen on the Eastside, it happens on Godshaw Hill as well. She spoke of a construction company doing work in the Whitney Avenue area with trucks speeding through stop signs, which has been going on month after month. Kimpton said residents have called the town and they have not gone to talk with the company.

She also said “good luck” to Carson on speed bumps.

“They don’t do a thing,” Kimpton said. “They (drivers) just bottom out and keep going. And it’s continuous all day long.”

Kimpton said everyone knows how many times she’s been to town council meetings about speeding on Godshaw Hill. She said residents can’t get a police officer to drive down Whitney Avenue but can get a police officer on Pookie Lane where nobody is living 90 percent of the time, sometimes three times a day with a second officer coming out as well. She said officers do not drive down Whitney Avenue unless someone calls, and response times there are 20 minutes to two hours.

“It’s not just the Eastside,” Kimpton said.

Marilyn Doheny asked what happened to Carson’s letter that had been delivered Feb. 10.

“I got a little busy and forgot to respond but it’s still on the desk,” Ollis said. “I mean, I’m not trying to be rude, I’m just saying I got busy and I’m trying to apologize to Dr. Carson.”

Ollis later said about the public works employees that Tryon has some of the hardest working guys he’s seen, especially considering the equipment they have to work with. Ollis said they work on holidays and the sewer employees are out repairing pipes almost every weekend. Ollis said employees get caught in a bad position and are in an almost no win situation.

“They are people, too, and they work and they just want to feed their families,” said Ollis.

Ollis said anyone who ever needs to talk to him is welcome to come see him. He also said a lot of the issues the town has is because the town just doesn’t have the staff or money.