16Mayor WarnerHow do you feel about the new partnership between the Town of Hope Mills and Up & Coming Weekly?

I’m excited about the opportunity to share what we’re doing with all of Cumberland County. I think that’s the big thing; Up & Coming Weekly covers all of Cumberland County. But the other thing is I think it’s important that we have focused news for Hope Mills. And now we have an opportunity to share in advance before things take place.

What are you most excited about when it comes to Hope Mills as a community?

Right now, it’s the fact that we’re growing by leaps and bounds. It has happened quickly. People want to live here. Hope Mills has that smalltown feel, but the numbers are quickly growing. We’ve got nice homes, nice schools, and our community and recreation facilities just can’t be beat. I’m very excited about the new businesses that we have coming in, too, and the fact that we have opportunities with our new golf course to make a nice recreational facility to attract even more families. I think that’s the key, that we’re a family-based community.

Where do you see the town headed over the next five years?

We have a positive direction. We do have a facilities plan and a strategic plan for our growth. When I was first elected, I didn’t see that. It was very hard to get people to look further than just today. Even the Town Hall — it was built for the time. Now, we’re planning for the growth. Over the next 5 years, you’ll see that with our plan we’re using tax dollars more wisely, and we’re planning not just for the next five years but for the next 30 years. It will be with the idea that Hope Mills is growing and that we want to meet those needs down the road.

What do you consider the town’s biggest accomplishment in recent years?

The fact that we’re starting to work with the other municipalities and the county. Years ago, it was almost like Hope Mills was an island. We didn’t participate or do a good job of sharing our ideas with the rest of the community. Now, we are. We’re getting grant money and DOT money that we probably wouldn’t have gotten if we had stayed isolated. We’ve also accomplished a lot by negotiating and winning a lawsuit for the dam. Even though it’s a process that’s taken a long time, we’re looking at the culmination of that because the (new) dam’s almost complete, and so the centerpiece of our town (Hope Mills Lake) will be back. And so I think that will again draw more people.

We also have a multi-modal congestion plan that’s being worked on so we can be more pedestrian-friendly and more bike-friendly. Once those plans are complete, we’ll be able to get more grant money to make this a more walkable community.

What is Hope Mills’ biggest asset?

Most people would want to say that it’s the lake or it’s the parks and recreation facilities. But I think it’s the people that live here. It’s our citizens. A lot of them have been here their entire lives. Those who have come back here or retired here are what make this community what it is. It has a small-town feel; people know each other and look out for each other.

What are your closing thoughts?

The most important thing right now is that with growth comes some change, and what we’re looking at now is change for everyone. But we’re planning that change. We’re being proactive, and we’re looking at what we know we need instead of having developers tell us what we need. We’re planning, and we’re going to keep Hope Mills feeling small-town while also accommodating the new growth.

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