A meeting to update residents and gather input on the replacement of the bridge over the Tuckaseigee River in Old Cullowhee will be held from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 12, in the Ramsey Center hospitality room on the WCU campus.
The meeting, hosted by the N.C. Department of Transportation, will feature two modified design options.
The first option replaces the bridge in approximately the same location as the existing bridge but maintains a single lane of traffic during construction. “You can expect congestion and delays with this [alternative] during construction,” reads NCDOT literature advertising the meeting.
The second option is a bridge constructed immediately upstream of the existing one. This alternative would maintain two lanes of traffic on the existing bridge during construction, but “more right-of-way would have to be acquired,” reads the literature.
Public input begins at 5 p.m., when residents can review maps and discuss the projects with NCDOT employees. Short presentations on the two options will begin at 5:30 p.m. to be followed by a question-and-answer session.
Direct comments and questions to John Williams of the NCDOT at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-707-6178.
A river park near the Old Cullowhee bridge is the focus of a meeting hosted by the Cullowhee Revitalization Endeavor from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 13, at the Jackson Country Recreation Center.
Participants will discuss the bridge options and weigh whether to submit input, according to the meeting agenda. Also up for discussion: easements for a river park, a feasibility study, fundraising and modeling the project on an existing park.
For more information, contact Maurice Phipps of CuRvE at email@example.com.
Also on Wednesday, June 13, a Cullowhee Farmers Market will launch from 5 p.m. to dusk on the green space beside the Cullowhee United Methodist Church on Central Drive. Vendors will be selling agricultural and horticultural products from their gardens in Jackson County. Curt Collins, who graduated from WCU in 2009 with a degree in nutrition and dietetics, is market coordinator.
Is community-based growth and development planning in Cullowhee’s near future? According to a show of hands at a May 29 community meeting at Cullowhee Valley School, the interest is there. Of the approximately 35 people present, “attendees indicated overwhelming support for the effort,” according to meeting notes from CuRvE member Mary Jean Herzog, a faculty member in the WCU School of Teaching and Learning. In fact, 20 people signed up as possible volunteers for a steering committee to guide the planning effort, according to Herzog.
CuRvE has led the effort to revitalize Old Cullowhee with a series of meetings to gauge interest and support. (On a related note, see this story by Quintin Ellison in the Smoky Mountain News about the community response to the arrival of several trailers in the heart of Old Cullowhee.)
Jackson County planner (and Cullowhee resident) Gerald Green has been assisting CuRvE in its efforts. He attended the meeting and presented information about community-based planning, an option for residents of unincorporated areas. Such efforts in Jackson County are not unprecedented: Cashiers, Cullowhee’s neighbor up N.C. Highway 107, instituted planning approximately a decade ago, and the U.S. 441 “gateway corridor” in Jackson County also established planning guidelines several years ago.
This type of planning is covered in the N.C. General Statues and must meet several criteria, including a minimum of 640 acres in the planning area and at least 10 separate tracts and 10 separate owners in the planning area. At the May 29 meeting, Green recommended small, incremental steps.
In the next couple of weeks, members of CuRvE will work on a draft map of the area in Cullowhee to be considered for planning and recommend individuals (area property owners, residents and business owners) to serve on a planning committee of from seven to 11 members. CuRvE members plan to request endorsement in their efforts at preliminary planning from the Jackson County commissioners this summer.
“We want to keep this moving,” said Green. “There’s momentum, and there certainly seems to be a desire from a core group in Cullowhee.”
Compiled by Jill Ingram