Kinston Free Press Feb. 13, 2010

Adkin High alumni seek alternative after losing parking to stream restoration

David Anderson
2010-02-13 16:40:50

City officials are working with Adkin High School alumni to find an alternate source of parking, because the property they normally use next to their building has been claimed for the Adkin Branch stream restoration project.


“I don’t think walking from the facility to a faraway parking place would be feasible or beneficial to anybody,” City Councilman Robbie Swinson said Friday.


The Charles B. Stewart Alumni Center at Pine Street and Tower Hill Road is a converted wing of the school that housed the school’s gym, band room, some classrooms and other facilities.


 Felix Coward, president of the board of directors of Adkin High Alumni & Friends Inc., said the organization uses the land next to the center for parking during events and AHS class reunions held every two years, which about 500 people attend.


“I feel very strongly that they don’t realize the impact it’s going to have on our school reunions and the community,” Coward said.


The land next to the facility was owned by the Beech family until the N.C. Ecosystem Enhancement Program recently purchased it and placed a conservation easement on it. The EEP is coordinating the ongoing restoration of two miles of streambed to improve water quality and reduce the severity of floods.


The Beech land was among about 200 properties the city and EEP spent four years acquiring until work was kicked off last March.


The boundaries of the conservation easement extend from the stream to Pine Street, and to the Beech property’s boundary with adjoining city-owned lots. EEP Environmental Specialist III Kristie Corson said they are set and cannot be changed.


Corson said native vegetation would be planted there as a stream buffer and allowed to grow naturally; no maintenance can be performed.
“We feel that, in addition to eliminating our parking, what this is going to do is provide a natural habitat, as far as I’m concerned, for rodents, snakes, lizards,” Coward said.


The Adkin alumni association has additional parking available across Pine Street, along Tower Hill Road and at a lot off nearby Clay Street, but the property next door is the closest and ideal for the many elderly visitors to the association’s facility.


“If we didn’t have this, people have to park (at Clay Street) and walk, even in the inclement weather, and that’s not a good situation,” Coward said.

David Anderson can be reached at 252-559-1077 or danderson@freedomenc.com.