Senior staff writer
Mayor Russ McClure and Southport are looking ahead, strengthened by the events of 2017.
In his State of the City address, McClure pointed out that a new municipal complex will be completed by June. The building will house police and city offices, a council chamber and police academy training facilities.
Southport will pursue grants to transform the existing city building into a community center with facilities for non-profit institutions.
“With our new municipal complex, our police academy will be able to support surrounding departments with needed training and support, once again providing the leadership and strength of our police department,” stated McClure, who added that the city’s finances are strong.
The park next to the existing city building will be upgraded through a state grant for a new playground, a basketball court and a baseball field. The same grant, according to McClure, also will be used to stabilize Buck Creek.
The mayor remarked that the ongoing efforts of the Southport Redevelopment Commission will lead finally to an agreement to redevelop the former Davidson Lumber property into apartments.
Selected road and sidewalk improvements may begin this spring, thanks to a $271,000 state grant.
Taking a look back at 2017, McClure expressed pride in residents for honoring fallen Southport Police Lt. Aaron Allan, who was killed in the line of duty. Residents tied blue ribbons on trees and posts in honor of Allan and in support of all law enforcement personnel and brought teddy bears and bouquets to the Police Department.
A portion of Derbyshire Road was renamed in his honor.
“Although our Police Department and city have witnessed an unspeakable tragedy, through it all, our police, city offices and citizens have proven beyond question that Southport is strong,” McClure stated. “This strength has been on display through the events surrounding Aaron’s death, and that strength continues today.”
Southport became the center for a national outpouring of sympathy and heartfelt appreciation of officers from around the country.
McClure said Southport has a much lower crime rate than other Southside areas. “We remain committed to doing everything we can to make our streets safer and our neighborhoods stronger.”
He said his administration will continue to reach out to the business community for future growth and to Burmese leaders as they add to the diversity of the Southside.
Southport’s success, McClure assured, is due to its residents who “selflessly volunteer” their time for community events, municipal boards and commissions.