Preview: Hillsborough Mayor’s State of the Town Address

By Danny Hooley Posted March 21, 2014 at 1:38 pm

On Monday, March 24 at 7 p.m., Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens will deliver his State of the Town Address at the Orange County Public Library

In his eighth year in office, Stevens is declaring that The State of the Town is strong.

First of all, there’s the upcoming completion of Riverwalk, a 1.8 mile greenway along the Eno River corridor, with pedestrian connections that include Gold Park, Occonneechee Mountain, and Downtown.

“We’re making the connection from Gold Park to the downtown,” he says. “The bridges just came in – were delivered. We think, next Tuesday, they might be getting the cranes back in to lift and place the bridge.”

Stevens says that town planners have really emphasized making Hillsborough a walkable community.

“Certainly, with any new neighborhoods, we are trying to make sure that we have good connectivity, and good sidewalks,” he says. “We’re trying to infill where we can.”

He says the small-town, connected feel not only benefits Hillsborough residents who enjoy its unique character; It’s also welcoming and inclusive for anybody, whether they live in the heart of Historic Downtown, or just outside of it.

“When you live in Kenion Grove, or Churton Grove, which is actually outside the town limits, or in Cornwallis Hills, or in West End, or in Fairview, you know, you really also feel like, ‘I’m part of Hillsborough.’”

Stevens estimates it’ll be late summer by the time the trails are open to the public. Expect a big community celebration when that happens.

The population of Hillsborough has grown by about 1,000 people for each of the last three decades.

Instead of seeing a big growth in the number of people, the town enjoyed a significant growth in the number of businesses.

But now says Stevens, housing is about to catch up. Between 400 and 500 new homes will be built in Hillsborough over the next four years, which will bring in between 1,000 and 2,000 new residents. That’s a 30 percent increase in population.

Stevens says he’s excited about the prospect. After all, a town known for its architecture, restaurants and art community didn’t just spring up magically.

“I think that’s the heart of what’s special,” he says. “You can take all the parts – we have this historic architecture that’s in Hillsborough. We have this history and this narrative about how Hillsborough’s touched history.

“But all these things don’t make it,” says Stevens. “All these things contribute to it. It really is the people. And it’s the diversity of the folks that we have.”

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