Council OKs boardwalk named for King


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, December 4, 2017

Elizabeth City City Council has agreed to move forward with a boardwalk project at Charles Creek Park, and to name the walkway after civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

In mid-November, council agreed to borrow money to build a boardwalk at Charles Creek Park that city officials have said would serve as an educational nature trail for schoolchildren and others.

City councilors and Mayor Joe Peel embraced the roughly $135,000 project earlier this year, but held up final approval because grants weren’t available to pay for it.

At the behest of Councilor Michael Brooks, most councilors agreed to have the city finance the boardwalk’s cost. However, Councilors Johnnie Walton and Darius Horton opposed the move, saying it would increase city debt.

Despite his opposition to the project, Walton proposed naming the boardwalk in honor of King — a request other councilors agreed to. In accordance with City Council policy, a public hearing was held on the naming request. After no members of the public addressed the request, council approved it last week.

Councilor Ray Donnelly cast the lone vote against naming the boardwalk after King. Donnelly said the boardwalk should instead be named for a woman, noting his belief that women are underrepresented when it comes to the naming of public projects. He suggested the boardwalk be named for Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman instead.

Though disagreeing with Donnelly, Walton welcomed naming other future projects after women.

Following the naming of the boardwalk for King, council also approved financing $125,000 of the project’s cost with a loan from Southern Bank and Trust Co. at 2.49 percent interest. The debt would be repaid over five years and cost almost $133,000, which includes interest. A relatively small, $10,000 grant is also helping the city fund the project.