Princeville wraps up final revitalization workshop

PRINCEVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Princeville – the oldest town in the country to be founded by freed slaves.

“Born and raised right around the corner,” says resident, Linda Worsley.

Princeville also claiming the title to be hit the worst by Hurricane Matthew.

“My home was totally destroyed,” said Worsley. “I have a vacant lot there right now, right now I’m living in a FEMA trailer.”

But there is a dedicated group of people who have been working the past five days to turn rubble into restoration.

“We’re not advocating Princeville go away or move entirely to this site, said Gavin Smith, professor at UNC Chapel Hill, Coastal Resilience and workshop director. “But rather an extended Princeville.”

From all over North Carolina, a large group of people have been planning and designing 5:30 A.M. until dark.

“We explore ideas on the 52 acre site because its adjacent to 64,” said Smith. “How that might become an economic engine that takes advantage of the cultural history.”

“The citizens are actually getting the opportunity to express their opinions,” said Worsley. “And how they feel about what they’re actually doing. ”

The group of land use planners, engineers, architects and landscape architects are combining ideas from designers with locals, to come up with a layout that will support the town financially.

“There might be a visitor center, there might be a museum,” said Smith.

They are also keeping safety in mind if another hurricane were to hit.

“They would be outside of the flood plain by reducing the likelihood of those artifacts from ever being destroyed,” said Smith.

And if planning this historical site wasn’t enough pressure as it is, their final land plan will solidify the state’s ownership of the land.

“We’re really about providing opportunities and options for the town. We’re not dictating anything.”

The entire workshop was headed by FEMA, as they provided food and hotels for the designers and planners who traveled from all over the state to be in Princeville.

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