Online Originals: Winterville sidewalk project dispute

Online Originals

As with any small town, improvements and growth are important. In Winterville, the town has been working for months on projects to make the city more accessible. One improvement is the Winterville Sidewalk Project, which involves expanding the town’s sidewalks to make walking to local shops and restaurants easier.

“Well the town for quite a few years now has instituted a program for building new sidewalks or improving existing sidewalks, not only in the downtown area, but all over the town of Winterville. We of course are encouraging town citizens to walk from one destination to another. Of course, having a sidewalk in place will allow them to not have to walk in the street, but walk on a sidewalk which of course is safer for the town citizens.”  

– Edward Lassiter, Town Attorney for Winterville

However, not everyone in the town is on board with this project. The Dixie Queen Seafood Restaurant has been in Ronald Hines family for more than forty years, and he believes that the business is being negatively affected by the project.

The Dixie Queen Seafood Restaurant in Winterville, that’s been in dispute with the town over new sidewalks and the restaurants parking spaces.

In the 1970s, Ronald’s father purchased land across the street from the restaurant and turned it into a parking lot for extra spaces. The restaurant, which Hines says acquires more than a thousand customers a week, primarily feeds elderly customers.

Hines says that his restaurant was closed July 4th through the 15th of this year to give a break to employees. On the 11th, Hines received a call from his son Jake that the town of Winterville was building a sidewalk on the side of their parking lot.

At the time, Hines was in Tennessee and told his son to allow the construction to continue. He says he was confused as to why the town hadn’t asked him about the project prior, as he didn’t know anything about it.

“It was only two or three days later that I met with the engineer, and he said ‘Mr. Hines, we’re six inches on your property,'” said Ronald. “I can tear the cement up and put the asphalt back.’ I said no sir, it’s a nice job. Leave it there and we’ll deal with it.”

He said the newly added sidewalk took up two of his parking spots, and that the engineer proceeded to ask him if they could move his parking lot fence to join two sidewalks together, making it 46 inches. He declined.

When asked Edward Lassiter, the town’s attorney, explained that when the restaurant was shut down for a number of days in July, the town took the steps to go to The Dixie Queen and inform them of their plans to build a sidewalk, but no one was there.

Edward Lassiter, Winterville’s town attorney, discusses the reasoning behind the town’s Sidewalk Project.

Hines believes that if the project were to continue, he could lose up to seven parking spots. Lassiter explains that after the town assessed the parking lot area, that Heins would actually only be losing one more parking spot.

“We want them (visitors and residents) to be able to park and get from one place to another, and that means they need to be on the sidewalk and not walking in the street.”

– Edward Lassiter on the goal of the swidewalk project
Ronald Hines, Dixie Queen manager, and the owner walk with his son as they explain how the Winterville Sidewalk Project could affect their customer parking if expanded further onto their lot.

The attorney also explained that the town had offered Hines money to move the fence, to which he declined. Lassiter feels that the project as a whole is a “win-win” for everyone in Winterville, as it provides further access to what the town has to offer.

If everything goes smoothly, the project should be completed within the next two weeks.

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