FIRST ON 3: 3rd Street work could squeeze, shorten Azalea Festival Parade
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- For months drivers and pedestrians alike have had to deal with the shifts and delays caused by roadwork in downtown Wilmington. The North 3rd Street Improvement Project will continue until later this year, which means it could impact one of the biggest events of the year.

Crews continue to work on one of Wilmington's best known streets -- giving North 3rd a facelift of sorts.

"That includes new water and sewer mains underneath the road. It includes taking the power lines and utility lines and putting them underneath the road to make it much more attractive," Wilmington city spokesman Dylan Lee said.

The project, which started in August, had some unexpected bumps in the road, like fuel tanks uncovered, which had to be disposed of.

Lately, there have been no big problems. The city says work on the other lanes will start soon.

"That whole travel area is going to shift over to the other side of the road for the southern side of the project from (Princess Street) to Grace Street," Lee said. "That'll happen in the next couple of weeks."

The project is expected to be finished some time in September. That has many wondering what's going to happen come Azalea Festival weekend, specifically the parade on April 14?

"The parade route is going to stay the same as last year as far as we know at this point," Azalea Festival Parade Chair John Russ said. "It is our understanding as well that the city is going to do everything they can in their power to have the street completely cleaned as much as possible as they continue to move down 3rd Street toward our staging area."

Parade organizers say some details could change in the coming weeks, but as of right now, the plan is to squeeze the parade to one side of the street. That means having bleachers only on one side. But probably the most noticeable change in 2012 will be the length of the parade, possibly being 15 to 30 minutes shorter.

"We're anticipating that it might be a little shorter, because it is going to take us a little more time to stage the parade," Russ said. "What I mean by that is place the units in the proper order that we have them in and kind of get them set up to make the move down 3rd Street."

That means perhaps as many as 60 fewer entrants in the parade.

"We are going to put up a hard deadline when we stop taking applications so we don't overextend ourselves, having too many participants in the parade to where we're not able to get a precise time frame knowing that we are up against a little construction constraints down there with what's going on on 3rd Street," Russ said.

The city hopes to have all of 3rd Street open and cleaned for the Azalea Festival Parade.

If you're interested in being in the parade, the application deadline is February 28.

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have possibly been able to see this coming? Well, just try and stay focused on the percentage of coverage by signs in windows of private businesses...

Couple of things here - if you want to see where your tax dollars go, take a look at the budget. I went online and found out that almost all of our property tax dollars pay for police & fire. I guess other money comes from grants and sales tax. I looked but couldn't find anywhere in the budget that tax dollars went to the convention center, but I think the tourist tax paid for that. Bridges, Market Street, 3rd Street, by-passes, highways, all that stuff is state controlled.

The City Planners are what is hurting business downtown.

- Bridge Painting that is WAYYYY over schedule diverting people and closing roads into the city or backing up traffic.

- 3rd Street work that will end over schedule because someone didn't research to figure out what they would find and means less lanes open and people taking alternate routes away from the area.

- Sign Ordinance that has the City meddling into the businesses instead of allowing business owners to effectively run their own investments (aka: their own business).

- Wilmington Downtown Inc getting City funds and being involved in making decisions that should be up to the business owners and residents.

- Putting ugly hazardous signs up on Princess Street between 3rd & 4th Streets declaring Innis Park (the lawn of Thalian Hall) as only available from dawn to dusk.

- Market Street being one of the most uneven, pitted, and rolling pieces of crap road which is the main lead in from I-40. This road should be smooth as glass to make the driving experience 100% hospitable and acceptable.

- The "Art Key Fence" which has more than overstayed its welcome at the corner of Princess and Front Streets. It is always leaning over, falling down, and taking up 30% of the sidewalk with cement bricks and exposed pieces of metal. THIS is the eyesore of downtown. Not signs in some shop-keeper's window. Get on the developer or owner to do something with this property instead of this obstruction that is a potential hazard.

Can this City make any decisions or hire people to do anything worth the taxes they collect?

"Can this City make any decisions or hire people to do anything worth the taxes they collect?" (unquote)

The answer to this is "Yes/No"...they could...but they haven't a clue how to run a city any better then my cat!
For as long as I remember...this city has been plagued with gas lines hit because crews haven't a clue as to where they are digging (3rd Street is next on that list, you'll see). Crews just "Go for it" and BAM!. This has happened more then we can shake a stick at in the last 20 years.
If you've noticed...every little (or big) thing that needs doing in Wilmington is, and will be, based on raising taxes to get the funding. Tax money already collected goes to..."Who knows where"? Well...it just fades into the sunset I guess.
As for road conditions here with pot holes/etc., this is the signature Icon of Wilmington...bad roads. A major Interstate Highway leading directly into a city's heart? NO! Makes no sense...but they did it! Maybe they thought By Pass meant Buy Pass and they were cutting cost. Either way...look what it has created.
A new Convention Center though? (Yes)...and now we need to cough up $40,000,000 more tax dollars for a baseball stadium. Someone pinch me!!! Now we know why there is no hotel built for the Convention Center...it's simply not needed. "The Emperor's New Clothes"....
Fact remains...this City Council wants the "Nest Egg Retiree's" and their cash to fund Wilmington...nothing more. Scottshill/Hampstead will come up on their radar in time to annex. That is a definite Gleam in their eye...believe it.
Once leadership here has picked our pockets long enough, then certain individuals in leadership will have what they wanted all along...a retirement center.
Both businesses and nest eggs will seek "other venues" soon enough, and leave this city standing by the wayside...Convention Center/Ball Field/...the works!
Copyright 2012