2022 was a year of progress in the City of Wilmington. So, let’s take a look back at the milestones and accomplishments of the past year.
Affordable housing is one of City Council’s top priority, and that commitment was continued by expanding funding for the city’s housing program and increasing loan amounts for the Homeownership Pool and Rental Rehabilitation programs.
Council appropriated more than $160,000 from the sale of Optimist Park to support the construction of Eden Village, which will provide over 30 homes for the unsheltered.
$750,000 was loaned to Cape Fear Collective to rehabilitate the Driftwood supportive housing property.
$250,000 was allocated to protect naturally occurring affordable housing.
The city also donated vacant properties to non-profits such as Good Shepherd and Habitat for Humanity, for construction of both affordable and supportive housing.
$1.6 million was allocated for the joint city-county homeless street outreach program.
Mayor Saffo and members of council traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate for funding to remediate mold at the area’s local housing authority. $1.65 million was allocated for capital improvements to get displaced residents back in their homes.
Phase 1 of the Clear Run Branch and College Acres Drive drainage improvement project began. This $11 million project will stabilize the stream, improve water quality and drainage, and prevent future erosion. It’s the first step toward eliminating flooding along New Centre Drive and the city’s largest stormwater capital improvement project to date.
To address the problem of food insecurity, Council allocated $1 million for the kitchen at the MLK Center and $150,000 to the Food Bank. The city also donated property to bring a grocery store to the Northside.
The second phase of the Park Avenue Trail was completed, expanding the city’s trail system. This also included crosswalk and drainage upgrades in multiple locations.
Street rehabilitation work continued across the city with approximately 150 lane miles of roads receiving attention. The city also continue to make improvements to sidewalks streetscapes and trails throughout Wilmington.
2022 saw the Wilmington Fire Department recognized as an ISO Class 1 department, which is the highest designation a fire department can achieve. Only 338 of nearly 30,000 departments nationwide have earned this designation.
Steve Mason was officially installed as Wilmington Fire Chief. And, 2022 also marked the 125th anniversary of the Wilmington Fire Department’s existence as a career organization.
The city continued to save energy costs and cut emissions by taking steps to meet its goal of being completely powered by clean energy by 2050.
The first publicly available electric vehicle fast chargers were installed in downtown Wilmington. There are now chargers in the Market Street parking deck, the 2nd Street deck, the River Place deck, with two more set to be installed in the Convention Center parking deck.
Council allocated $750,000 for the Coastal Horizons Quick Response Team as part of the ongoing effort to combat the opioid epidemic.
$1.3 million of ARPA funding was allocated to the Salvation Army for the construction of a road that will access their future community center.
As a regional leader, the city helped secure millions of dollars for the Cape Fear region to strengthen our hurricane resiliency.
The Wilmington Police Department upgraded traffic lights at nearly every major intersection. They are now wired to support generator backup power in case of power outages. Council allocated funds for new personnel to enhance downtown safety and for two more investigators for the Gun Crime Task Force.
And WPD’s Mounted Unit welcomed its newest addition, Officer Ranger.
Council approved four business development investment grants for businesses who create new jobs in the Port City. These grants would require the creation of at least 600 new jobs, with average salaries ranging from $62,000 to $131,000, and investments of over $125 million in real and personal property. In addition, $100,000 was allocated to Genesis Block to support small businesses and entrepreneurship. And, $2.6 million was allocated to teach high-tech job skills to help bridge the digital divide.
As of 2022, as part of its ongoing commitment to grow our urban canopy, the city has planted or given away over 10,000 trees in just two years as part of the Wilmington Tree Initiative.
Wilmington continued to be a desirable destination for film and television projects, with a total of 265 permits issued in 2022.
After rescue from a dead tree, a massive beehive found a permanent home in Halyburton Park with the opening of the city’s first public apiary.
The Parks and Recreation Department hosted a first of its kind horticulture program at the city greenhouse, giving homeschooled students hands-on experience with seeds and plants.
Council awarded a $12.5 million construction contract for the nCino Sports Complex, which will host a range of activities such as soccer, lacrosse, football and ultimate frisbee.
And for the first time, the city opened a holiday “ice” rink at the city’s new state-of-the-art Riverfront Park and pavilion.
Thank you to everyone who helped make Wilmington such a wonderful place to live in 2022.
We look forward to continuing those efforts in 2023!
Certain programs and funding mentioned in this article were made possible through the American Rescue Plan Act being administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in conjunction with the City of Wilmington.