Rocky Mount Telegram Sept. 4, 2006

Stream restoration targets erosion, flooding in Tarboro

By Zach Ahmad
Rocky Mount Telegram

Monday, September 04, 2006

About 20 Tarboro landowners could be asked to sell the development rights to
parts of their property to allow for a stream restoration project.

Town officials are in discussion with the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program
to build a tributary along Hendricks Creek. The proposed waterway would run
from Howard Avenue to Western Boulevard, running by Tarboro High School and
the Braswell Center.

The town is still waiting on a formal draft of what areas would be affected.
However, Jeff Schaffer, eastern operations supervisor for the ecosystem
program, said the plan would likely require asking about 20 private
homeowners to sell conservation easements to the state.

"We'll take what they'd be willing to give us," Schaffer said. "That would
allow us to work within that area to protect the area, and do some work on
the stream."

The project would affect homes along South Avenue between Howard and Pearl
streets, said Tarboro Public Works Director David Cashwell. The ecosystem
program has already reached an agreement with the town to use any public
land the tributary would run on.

Homeowners in the area have not yet been notified of the project, and it has
not been determined how much the state would pay for the land. Schaffer said
he hopes to begin approaching residents early next year.

Schaffer said the purpose of the project would be to repair erosion,
mitigate flooding and restore some of the stream's natural environment. He
added that landowners would not be forced to participate.

"We're a strictly voluntary program," Schaffer said. "We will go out and
talk to them, and if they have a desire, we'll work with them. If they
don't, we're not going to force them into it."

Cashwell said the project would be a plus for the neighborhood and would
address a problem that residents of the area have had for a while.

"These people are having some very severe erosion back there," Cashwell
said. "Several of them have approached the town about doing something about
this."

One Tarboro resident, Roger Cobb, who has lived just behind the site of the
proposed tributary for 12 years, said he will wait for more details before
deciding whether to sell an easement, but that he thinks the project is a
good idea.

"I think it would be a big help," he said, pointing out the buildup of
leaves and branches in the area. "Once all that's cleaned out, the water can
drain out of there better than it does now."

The Ecosystem Enhancement Program is a state agency that carries out
environmental restoration projects across North Carolina using state funds.
It is also currently overseeing construction of the East Tarboro Canal
Stream Restoration project.