“Greatest City in USA,” proclaims New Bern Mayor

An addition to historic City Hall will include a much-needed elevator, and is expected to meet its anticipated completion date of early May.
An addition to historic City Hall will include a much-needed elevator, and is expected to meet its anticipated completion date of early May.

By Jeff Odham , Mayor

CITY OF NEW BERN – For the last five years, New Bern has celebrated bringing in a new year by dropping a lighted bear from the corner of City Hall. This event started from a simple Facebook post I made in 2016. The community got engaged offering their thoughts on what a new year’s event could look like for our city. Those ideas, along with financial support from our sponsors, and a ton of work by our city staff, has generated an annual event attended by thousands of patrons in downtown New Bern.

During my “almost midnight speech” on Saturday evening, I talked about OPPORTUNITY. That’s a word that is often used during new year conversations. However, opportunities, much like resolutions, are wasted if not acted upon. So, my challenge to those in attendance (and the thousands that were watching on New Bern Live and our city’s Facebook page) was to take advantage of the opportunities ahead and ACT ON THEM!

In 2023, my goal as mayor is to show some ACTION when it comes to moving our city forward. Some pieces are already in place, like making city hall accessible for all with an elevator and ADA compliant restrooms. We will likely be cutting that ribbon in the coming months. The rebuilding of our Stanley A. White recreation center, which was substantially damaged by Hurricane Florence in 2018, is on the horizon as well. We’ve talked about this for years (literally), but the time is upon us to break ground and build back better. ACTION!

There are other topics that need some attention as well, such as the City of New Bern’s Redevelopment Commission. This group was created about four years ago with the charge to revitalize the area that encompasses Five Points, Duffyfield and Trent Court. While some accomplishments have been made, they’re not very visible. It’s time to show our citizens some progress. ACTION!

Speaking of Trent Court, many of those buildings were substantially damaged much like the former Stanley White recreation center was, but those buildings are still standing. Their only purpose now is to serve as a reminder of the devastation those residents experienced during a generational-level storm surge. It’s time for them to come down and rebuild that community with safe and affordable housing. ACTION!

There are many other ideas that I’d like to see us explore, such as extending Broad Street at the roundabout and adding some parking, benches, lights and a fishing pier. I’m also a very strong advocate for the planned amphitheater at Martin-Marietta Park. These are amenities that will be utilized by citizens and tourists alike. ACTION!

We need to ensure there is a strategic plan in place to help govern our city for both the short and long-term. Several departments already have a strategic plan, but not all do. Once each department has their plan, a comprehensive plan for the city can be adopted. ACTION!

So, in the words of Larry the Cable Guy, it’s time to GET-R-DONE! Help us help you by working together and being advocates for New Bern. This is the greatest city in the USA, let’s be proud and promote it as such.