Senior staff writer
“Small things” matter to first-term Southport Mayor Russ McClure.
McClure emphasized in his recent State of the City address that it’s the little things – blighted properties, empty lots and litter – that can make or break the image of a small municipality the size of Southport.
“Fixing those small things can change a whole community,” said McClure, who also emphasized redevelopment and growth for the city.
With an active Redevelopment Commission, Southport is making progress on a larger vision for the city. Several properties, including the sale and redevelopment of the Gerdt Building into business offices, clearing of an abandoned cement plant for parking, the purchase of the old post office building and transformation into an attractive retail building have enhanced the heart of Southport on Southport Road between Madison Avenue and Derbyshire Road.
“We will reach out to the local business community to determine their needs and how the city can help them continue to be successful,” McClure stated. “We will help build a city that fosters innovation, incubation and entrepreneurship, because that’s what drives real, long-term growth.”
He is hopeful that a new municipal complex can be constructed for city offices, council chambers, a police station and training facilities. The existing city building will become more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and serve as a larger community center.
“Southport is home to residents who work hard, who serve their community and persevere,” McClure said. “With planned facilities, Southport will become a clear leader for the entire Southside.”
Southport has a diverse population with estimates that 36 percent of the residents are foreign born.
“This represents a challenge as well as a great opportunity for outreach to new residents,” McClure said. “This past year, (Police) Chief Vaughn and I have been committed to talking with the leaders of the Burmese community to make sure that we understand each other’s needs.”
McClure also attested that the financial state of the city is strong, streets are being made safer and neighborhoods stronger, streets continue to be repaved and sidewalks repaired.
He pointed out that the police department has modernized equipment with cameras and additional technology and its officers are engaged in the community.
“Strong city investment in our Police Department has resulted in a much lower crime rate in Southport as compared to the immediate area,” he said. “We remain committed to doing everything we can to make our streets safer and our neighborhoods stronger.”
Infrastructure improvements will continue on the heels of improved street signage and the McLaughlin-Pine Street drainage project. Storm water drainage and street improvements are targeted this year.