PITTSBORO — This November, Pittsboro will have a new mayor. Jim Nass, after years of service to the community on numerous boards, is the town’s presumptive mayor, having drawn no …
Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing to the News + Record – you can do so by clicking here.
PITTSBORO — This November, Pittsboro will have a new mayor.
Jim Nass, after years of service to the community on numerous boards, is the town’s presumptive mayor, having drawn no competition in this year’s municipal election. Current Pittsboro Mayor Cindy Perry chose not to run for re-election after two terms.
Nass has been the long-time chairman for the Pittsboro ABC Board, helping turn around a struggling organization.
“The space was completely outdated,” Nass said. “There had been enough issues that the money the town received wasn’t close to what it could have been. The employees were not treated well — they had no leave, no health insurance, no benefit that would be considered part of the modern world.”
With Nass at the helm, the board renovated the ABC Store, created a personnel manual, provided paid leave and benefits and “lo and behold, we started making money,” he said, to the tune of about $111,000 each year for the town of Pittsboro.
He also served the chairman for the Chatham Park Additional Elements Committee, is a member of Main Street Pittsboro, former chairman of the town’s Affordable Housing Task Force and interim chairman of the fledging permanent Pittsboro Affordable Housing Committee.
In between committee meetings, Nass wrote a book of poetry, and has two other projects: he’s writing a novel based on Volga German history in honor of his late wife, and he’s writing a piece on the reconciliation of Christianity with the science of evolution and quantum physics. He has four children and five grandchildren who are an inspiration for his service. He wants Pittsboro to be a place for “everyone’s children and grandchildren.”
“That’s why I’m running for mayor of Pittsboro,” he said.
Nass believes that his experiences and successes on these boards will translate into progress for the Pittsboro Town Board.
“I think I will be able to get the board to better focus on key elements as we move along,” Nass said. “Every issue needs to be done correctly and it needs to be done in a timely fashion. We do have to be right, but we do have to get them done. Timeliness is a virtue.”
Nass wants to focus on critical issues and prioritize, seeing infrastructure as a key concern. Nass’ first concern is the drinking water in Pittsboro and believes that it’s “a safety issue.” Though the town’s water has been well within state and federal guidelines for years, the level of unregulated chemicals in the water are disconcerting for Nass.
Second, he thinks the Sanford force main issue “needs to be resolved.” The town’s wastewater treatment plant is nearly capacity. For more than four years, the board has been discussing and deliberating the construction of a force main, a massive sewer line, that would connect Pittsboro to Sanford’s Big Buffalo Wastewater Treatment plant.
“We need to make that happen,” Nass said.
He also wants more information from Chatham Park on how quickly the wastewater reclamation plant under construction can be online.
“We are very quickly running out of capacity,” Nass said.
Nass also wants the board to focus and complete the Chatham Park Additional Elements. These elements are additional regulations on the Chatham Park development that govern areas including Open Space, Tree Protection, Landscaping, Stormwater, Public Art, and Affordable Housing. Nass was also the chairman for the town’s additional elements committee. That committee completed it’s work with final recommendations to the board in May 2016.
“They have been setting there on the table for a very long time,” Nass said. “There is some hope that the current board will be able to work them up, but if not, those need to be finished.”
“We also need to take a careful look at staffing,” Nass said. “We have an enormous amount of activity and I don’t think we have the planning staff we need. We are overburdening what we have resulting in delays that are not their fault.”
Nass also wants to bring some balance to the discussions about Chatham Park.
“On the one hand we have to recognize that Chatham Park is here because Pittsboro is great, as opposed to making a lot of money somewhere else,” Nass said. “I do not believe Chatham Park making money is a bad thing. That’s the way our world works. What I do think is we need to do the best to balance that with the environment and the protection of old Pittsboro.
“That does not mean no tree gets cut down ever, but it does mean a balance between the environment and Chatham Park is, I think, directly tied to the additional elements,” he said. “The key factor for the town is to have the capacity to enforce these agreements. Pittsboro has to be able to enforce what Chatham Park signed up for and what Pittsboro agreed to.
“Staffing is the critical element here also,” Nass said. “Unless the town is able to be on top of it, things can go sideways in a hurry.”
Nass believes that work also needs to be done to blend old Pittsboro with the new noting the “process” has made many “defensive.” He wants to be a “leader” in figuring out blending the two.
“I want new residents to get a feel for Pittsboro and adopt downtown as their home town,” Nass said. “Our hometown is Main Street Pittsboro. I want them to see it as their downtown too so we don’t end up as two communities.
“High on my list is having a solid working relationship with the county,” he said. “The county is receiving money from vacant land and are essentially doing nothing for that money. Pittsboro is carrying that load. I would like to have the kind of relationship so we can work together.”
Nass notes affordable housing as one topic where the town and the county could integrate efforts. He believes if they work together to meld ordinances so they “match,” it will ensure that places for people to live will be available.
“Let’s put these things together and maximize the situation,” Nass said.
Prior to taking the helm of the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners, Nass is working to complete the town’s affordable housing ordinance. As the current interim chairman for the town’s affordable housing committee, Nass is hopeful that the committee’s recommended ordinance will be presented to the board for its consideration prior to him being sworn in as mayor.
Reporter Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.