City OKs Goler hydroponics facility at Kimberley Park

City OKs Goler hydroponics facility at Kimberley Park
August 18
07:25 2016



During its Monday, Aug. 15, meeting, the Winston-Salem City Council approved a new facility that will deliver fresh produce to the Kimberley Park community, which is a food desert, meaning that there’s not a grocery store within one mile.

Goler Community Development Corporation’s hydroponics and aquaponics facility at Kimberley Park was approved.

Hydroponics involves growing produce with water instead of soil and aquaponics involves farming fish, whose waste will provide nutrients for the plants to grow.

The city is leasing nearly three acres for 25 years to Goler CDC with up to three 25-year extensions. The city also authorized up to $962,000 to help with the project. There are expected to be five jobs created at the facility.

Helping Our People Eat (HOPE), which prepares and delivers meals to food insecure communities, will be subleasing part of the land for a new facility it will construct there.

During last week’s finance committee meeting, Goler CDC President Michael Suggs said that Goler has been focused on real estate development in the past, with projects like Goler Lofts. He told council members that the CDC found other needs in the community involving jobs and health that it wanted to address. After the City Council unanimously approved the measure, Suggs said Goler was glad to have the city behind the project.

“I’m excited to see the city take a stand to address an issue that has been very prevalent in a lot of our community, which is a lot of our citizens just don’t have access to fresh food, fruits and vegetables,” said Suggs

The new facility will be in the North Ward, which City Council Member Denise “D.D.” Adams represents. Adams said that the city hasn’t been able to get grocery chains to go into certain parts of the city where food deserts exist. She said the project provides an innovative solution to that problem.

“We can duplicate, replicate and move this into other areas of the city if it’s successful,” said Adams.

Also during the meet-ing, the city approved changing its incentive deal with Caterpillar. It changed the minimum number of jobs from 196 to 100 that the local facility has to have in order to not pay back the millions its received so far in incentives. Caterpillar subsidiary Progress Rail, which makes train parts, was also added to the deal. Caterpillar, whose local facility makes axels for mining trucks, is facing a worldwide downturn in the mining industry and has reduced its workforce.  It plans to bring Progress Rail to the facility to bolster the jobs there, and wanted the change in the deal so it wouldn’t go below the minimum job level during the facility’s transition.

Jo Ann Allen, who is running as a write-in mayoral candidate, said during the public hearing that if the council changes an agreement with Caterpillar, then other companies will want similar accommodations. The City Council defended the deal, saying that it allows the facility to stay open and continue employing workers. City Council member James Taylor described altering the deal as turning lemons into lemonade.

The city also allocated the additional $50,000 added to this year’s budget for Successful Outcomes After Release (SOAR), which gives grants to programs that assist at-risk populations like ex-offenders and at-risk youth. Grants were awarded to Silver Lining Youth Services, My Brother’s Second Chance, Southside Rides, the YWCA’s Hawley House/Project New Start, The Josh Howard Foundation, Hoops4LY.F.E and How Is Your Heart Project for a Beating Up Bad Habits summer boxing camp.

During the public comment period, residents from Rolling Hills Apartments spoke about the substandard conditions there that violate city housing codes. Carlice Roberts-Braddy decried the “patch work” way management has dealt with the problems and praised those who have helped the residents by providing food and water.

“We have tears that won’t dry, hearts that won’t heal, frowns that never go away and questions that can never be answered,” she said.

Community and Business Development Director Ritchie Brooks said that repair orders have been issued at the complex, some of which have been complied with and some are still open with some civil penalty fines that are being assessed.

Though residents voiced concerns about the cleanliness of the water in their apartments, Brooks said that the water was tested in one apartment in each building of the complex and those tests concluded the water was not contaminated.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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