Vote saves Mount Holly retired couple’s home from demolition for park expansion

North Carolina

MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — A Gaston County couple is relieved, knowing they won’t be losing their home since voters rejected a Mount Holly park bond by around 200 votes.

Several homes on East Catawba Avenue would have been torn down for a park expansion if voters had given the bond the green light.

Tina and Jeff Starnes have lived in their home for 35 years and were extremely worried the passing of the Park Bond would tear down so many of their memories. Now that the bond failed, the Starnes’ are having conversations with the City of Mount Holly about what comes next.

The city originally offered Jeff and Tina slightly more than the tax value of their home. They were frustrated by the offer since the market value was so much more.

“We don’t want to get rich off of this thing. And we’re not going to get rich. All we ever wanted was to be treated fairly,” Jeff Starnes said.

Now conversations with the city are going much smoother according to Starnes.

“One of the city council members approached me one night and said that after the news report, he didn’t realize that there was a human element to the whole thing. To him, it had been a business transaction and nothing more until he saw the report on FOX 46,” Jeff said.

The city had planned to tear down the homes on East Catawba Street to expand veterans park and build an amphitheater. But since it failed, the city has to find a new way to come up with $13.5 million to bring its plans to life.

“I’ve let plenty of people know as well, that these are some smart people, our city council, elected officials, they are all working all the time. And they’re very intelligent and very creative. I’m sure that in the end, everybody’s going to get what they want,” Tina said.

Tina and Jeff are still in talks with the city about the purchase of their home and what comes next, but they’re happy with the potential deal.

“Because of the dialogue that we’ve had with the city, since the last news report, that dialogues opened up and it’s been very positive. So like, I say, they want us to be happy, they’re not going to make us rich, but they’re gonna make sure that we’re taken care of their quality of life is, you know, not affected,” Jeff said.

When asked about plans for what comes next for the city’s park expansion plans, the city manager sent FOX 46 the following statement:

“It is unfortunate that the park bond referendum did not pass on November 2nd.

A tremendous amount of work and energy went into carefully crafting these plans, with public input during the feasibility studies and subsequent planning processes that brought these projects to the forefront. Since these projects are grounded in what the public was looking for in our Parks and Recreation facilities, the vision is still clear to our Mayor and City Council that these projects can be a vital component to bettering Mount Holly.

The projects listed in the bond package were the top three priorities, based on the public’s input. The parks and recreation need far exceed these three listed.

The dialogue will continue with funding opportunities explored along the way.”

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