quarterly town newsletter landed in Davidson mailboxes on Friday and Mayor John Woods went "Full Catalyst" in his "Mayor's Musings" column.
Espousing what can essentially be described as the "grow or die" mantra, Mayor Woods rattled off a bunch of items related to growth that he thinks Davidson needs to embrace - including what sounded suspiciously like the full blown version of the highly controversial Catalyst Project.
After a fairly condescending paragraph on the nature of "change" - just to make sure us underlings who don't have the "wisdom" of elected officials get it - Woods had this to say.
Davidson’s population growth has challenged us to support the town’s administrative and public safety functions that assure our quality of life. Our 25-year old town hall is no longer sufficient for our needs as we cannot place one more employee there, and the spaces for fire and police services are totally inadequate. Indeed, our town hall was built when our population was 4,000; we now have over 12,000 living here. With our downtown booming and a growing waiting list of merchants wanting to serve Davidson, we continue a feasibility study to determine if the town could partner with a private developer to build a stronger downtown, enhancing parking, while emphasizing our small-town character. The town-owned property including town hall, the Sloan house, and current Jackson Street parking lots could be redeveloped to emphasize our downtown’s attractiveness, improve the Davidson Farmer’s Market location, and create improved public space, retail, offices, residences, and parking in the downtown area. An important part of this effort is the needed improvements in town hall, including the addition of sleeping quarters in our fire station to better assure timely response during the night-time hours. The growth needs in all our public safety functions -- police, fire, and emergency first responders -- are an important consideration as our community continues to “transition.”
Nobody would question the need to ensure our public safety departments have what they need. What people do question is leveraging that legitimate need to push something like the Catalys Project. You'll notice Mayor Woods doesn't actually use the words "Catalyst Project" even though the bold portion of his comments perfectly describes that effort. That's how toxic the project has become.
Davidson Town Hall has asked their consultants to look at three options more closely. One of those is to just move public safety out of Town Hall and use the freed up space in the existing Town Hall building for other town needs.
That would be a minimally invasive solution without jeopardizing Davidson's small town character.
aShortChronicle is looking into information received that indicates the lean might be towards this low impact option versus what Mayor Woods describes. That will be presented as soon as it is more confirmed...or not.