Local News

52-acre expansion would add land less flood-prone to Princeville

Posted August 29, 2017 6:05 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 9:55 a.m. EDT

— It’s been nearly one year since Hurricane Matthew devastated the Town of Princeville, and a new project is intended to make the town more resilient during the next flood.

Hurricane Matthew marked the second time in less than 20 years that a flood wiped out the town, and design teams on Tuesday presented several concepts for what Princeville could look like in the future as the community rebuilds.

The plans revolve around a 52-acre plot of land about 2 miles from downtown Princeville that the state plans to buy. The use of the land would place essential services, including the fire station, town hall and schools, out of the flood zone.

"We think that floods are coming again," said Kofi Boone with North Carolina State University, which contributed to the project.

The new land could include homes, businesses, public facilities and open space but, according to Gavin Smith, a University of North Carolina professor who helped organize the project, they do not plan to replace Princeville.

“Just to be clear, it is not about moving the entire town, and the old town will remain. It is a matter of thinking through how they can expand their borders to places less vulnerable, at the same time respecting the significant deep history of Princeville,” Smith said.

The new plans imagine a town that highlights its own history with a welcome center, museum and parks.

"To really make Princeville a place that people want to come and visit and, frankly, spend some money," Smith said.

Plans also call for expanding another adjoining 100 acres in the future.

"If they do what they say they are going to do, it should be fine," said Princeville resident Woodrow Walston.

Walston and his wife, Bettie, said the plan looks good on paper but it would look even better if it becomes reality.

"What I heard, it sounds great," said Bettie Walston. "It sounds really great, but I was like 'Lord, let it all come to fruition' because this has been going on for years."

Tuesday was the final day of a five-day workshop where planners, engineers and architects worked with town residents and leaders on what the new addition to Princeville will look like.

A timetable, price tag and means for paying for the project are currently unknown, but officials in the governor's office said they are excited to work with the town on the project. .