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Crowd protests Balfour Parkway

Around 135 people congregated on the plaza of the Historic Courthouse Monday to protest the Balfour Parkway, waving signs and urging passing cars to honk in support. Later speakers implored the Board of Commissioners to stop the project.

Carrying signs that said "Save Our Homes" and "Stop the Balfour Parkway" and other messages, the homeowners urged passing cars to show support by honking horns. Some did, raising cheers and shouts from dozens of homeowners from Grimesdale, Stony Mountain Road, along N.C. 191 and along Howard Gap Road near a proposed new I-26 interchange.

"We're hoping to put a stop to the Balfour Parkway," said Cheryl Smith, a retiree who lives in Kingswood Hills off Howard Gap Road, near the I-26 interchange that would be built as part of the first of three parkway segments. "I feel there's a better way to do this. I'm concerned about my neighborhood.  What I want to do is to save my home. We'd like them to stop it and go back to the drawing board."

“Where do I begin,” John Dubis, a retired tool and die maker who has lived in Grimesdale for 17 years, said when asked what’s the problem with the Balfour Parkway. “When they do this, all the homes are going to be destroyed, all the taxes that those people pay are going to be gone. It’s upsetting people’s lives. What I’d like to ask the county commissioners is, If this was your home, how would you feel? It’s just very very upsetting. Never in my life did I think at age 77 that I would be standing out here with a sign because my home might be demolished.”

Bill Burchill, a Carriage Park resident and retired engineer who has compiled a report challenging the need for the parkway, said the protest was intended to raise awareness “because many many people we talk to don’t know about this. I just came from the Y and talk to someone there. He said, ‘I didn’t even know this. I never heard of the Balfour.’ A lot of people don’t even know. So, we’ll be back. This won’t be the last time you see us.”

Zane Chait, another Carriage Park resident, said if dozens of people lose their homes, negative consequences will spread through the local economy.

“If people move out (of the county), their families won’t come here, guests won’t come, they’ll take their money out of the local bank, they won’t go out to eat, they won’t shop,” he said. “The tax base will go down.”