Waynesville has spent $7 million over the past four years building a new fire station, police station and town offices — projects that have come under fire by some challengers for the town board.
Opponents point to the architecture — the brick towers on the fire house, the wood timber frames over the police department entrance — and question how much they added to the price tag.
“I think it is a little extravagant,” said Hugh Phillips, who is running for mayor.
“They may be just a bit more than we really needed,” said candidate Sam Edwards, calling the buildings too fancy. “It certainly helped prettify things, but I don’t know if that was what we should be doing right now.”
But the incumbents say the attractive building design added little to the cost and was worth it.
“I am proud of those things, and if they want to rag on me for that, guilty as charged,” said Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown.
Mary Ann Enloe, a challenger in the race, lauded the buildings and doesn’t consider them extravagant.
“I think the designs are beautiful,” Enloe said. “Why didn’t we make the justice center look like that?”
Alderman Gary Caldwell said the town actually scaled back some elements of the building design.
“It could have been far more fancy than what it is now,” Caldwell said.
The new police department on Main Street also houses the town planning office where developers and entrepreneurs come for their building permits and business licenses. It was important for it to look nice, Brown said.
“You are trying to create atmosphere when they come in to town they are impressed, that they are in a progressive arena, a place where people are doing things,” Brown said.
Criticism of the town building projects has originated from a political action committee called the Waynesville-Haywood Concerned Citizens. A web site by the group cites the “ostentatious” police department and “extravagant” fire station.
The web site questions a few others town spending priorities as well, but one of the chief examples is inaccurate. It blasts the town for spending money on fancy downtown art. However, no town tax dollars went for the public art pieces. They were funded entirely with private donations.