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Hope Mills board hears from Army leaders about name change to Fort Liberty

Architect says new public safety building is nearing completion


HOPE MILLS — A pair of leaders from Fort Bragg told the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners on Monday night that the decision to rename the post Fort Liberty was not made lightly.

Army Col. John Wilcox, Fort Bragg’s garrison commander, and the base’s top enlisted officer, Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory Seymour, made a presentation to the board about the name change.

“Between the two of us, we have about 35 years at Fort Bragg,” said Wilcox, who first reported to Fort Bragg as a captain in 2007. “We don’t approach the redesignation of Fort Bragg flippantly.”

Wilcox told the board that members of the national naming commission struggled to agree on one name that would reflect the spirit of the installation.

“We surveyed the community, asking, ‘What could we potentially name the installation?’ And 14,000 names came back,” Wilcox told the board.

After deliberation, the commission decided to not name the base after one person, Wilcox said.

“Then a Gold Star mother stood up and looked at everyone in the room. ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we are never going to decide on one name. My son did not die for one name; my son died for liberty,’” Wilcox said.

“The entire group then began looking for an aspirational term, something that appeals to the entire community. That term, ladies and gentlemen, is liberty,” Wilcox said.

Fort Bragg has always stood for liberty, he added.

Seymour, who has served in many campaigns based out of Fort Bragg, agreed that the new name is appropriate.

“Yes, we are changing the name to Fort Liberty,” he said. “But the mission of this installation will never change.”

Wilcox said some Fort Bragg veterans were concerned that the sacrifices and service of soldiers at the base would be forgotten.

To honor Bragg veterans’ service, the base will sponsor programs to bring attention to their sacrifices, he said. Those include a half-mile sunset march 365 days a year, rain or shine. The marches will start at Honeycutt Road and Liberty Trail and end at Randolph Road, Wilcox said.

The marches are scheduled to begin June 1.

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Other business

In other town business, the board heard an update about the new public safety building by its architect, Scott Garner.

Garner said the building is 95% complete and fully occupied. He said the walking path remains to be completed along with flag poles and the memorial garden.

“It will be a nice place to have a ceremony, and we’re looking forward to that. It’s an appropriate place for the focal point of the building,” Garner said. “We are on time, on budget, and we’re going to finish.”

The board unanimously passed a rezoning request to change a 1.2-acre property from rural residential to a more restrictive zoning. The property is at 2308 Park Garden Court.

The board agreed to move a vote on revising the parks and recreation code to its second meeting in May.

Beth Brown, the town’s stormwater administrator, updated the board on airport overlay policies. As residential or commercial development has progressed near the airport’s flight path, so have concerns from town and state officials about the developers’ wet retention ponds that attract wildlife such as ducks and geese. The increased wildlife poses the threat of a bird strike to planes from the airport near Exit 41 on Interstate 95.

The board unanimously agreed to update the airport overlay policy to mandate that any retention pond must drain within 48 hours. Brown said geese move in about 48 hours and start to make their home. 

The board also voted unanimously to set a public hearing on the annexation of property at 5070 S. U.S. 301 on May 1.

The board went into closed session to discuss personnel and attorney-client matters.

Hope Mills, Fort Bragg, Board of Commissioners, zoning