ROSEBORO — When gunshots rang out Saturday night at the Roseboro Community Building, it was just the latest in disruptions that Barbara Phillips has had to endure as a next door resident to the structure.
About 10 feet and a 5-foot-tall fence are the only buffer between the building and Phillips’ carport, which leads directly to her bedroom. She hears every noise at the building and said that racket, along with the crowds and traffic that comes with it, has been an issue for her and other neighbors. No one, however, is closer than Phillips.
If not for a sign in the front yard that reads Community Building, branded with the Roseboro logo, there would be little to distinguish that community center from any other house on Northeast Railroad Street, not far from the Roseboro Town Hall. Phillips said that is part of the problem.
“It’s located here in a residential area,” said Phillips, who previously received approval from town officials to erect a no parking sign, install a road barrier and paint a no parking zone in front of her home due to the traffic that would block her driveway. “They know that building is not zoned correctly. We have had this argument with them.”
She has no problem with the seniors who enjoy activities at the building during the day, but when crowds rent out the facility at night, Phillips becomes an unwilling participant in those rowdy parties. She can’t escape it, she said.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Phillips, who has lived at her Railroad Street residence for the past 22 years. “Enough is enough.”
The Saturday shooting incident has her fuming and threatening legal recourse against the town, which owns the property.
According to reports, the facility had been rented out to a group for a “back-to-school” party. Sampson County Sheriff’s Lt. Marcus Smith said deputies were in the general vicinity of the building investigating a string of armed robberies that occurred earlier that same day when they heard “multiple gunshots” coming from the Community Building. Those shots were reportedly fired around 10:45 p.m., close to 11 p.m.
“They saw a fight break out at that location and proceeded to the location,” said Smith. “They heard shots fired and as they got to the location, a crowd of people dispersed rapidly.”
Phillips said there had to be 200 people in the area. Smith noted only that it was a “large crowd.” He said deputies were “unable to identify where the shots came from” and were met with uncooperative witnesses. Smith said law enforcement made town officials, including Mayor Alice Butler, aware of the incident.
“The town owns that building and rents it out. I think they are dealing with that administratively,” the sheriff’s lieutenant said of the matter. “That’s not really our purview.”
Reached Thursday, Butler confirmed she was aware of the situation and had met with other town officials in dealing with it.
“We are addressing this,” the mayor said, noting, “We’ve updated our rental agreement several times.”
At last month’s regular meeting, the Town of Roseboro Board of Commissioners unanimously approved provisions to the existing Community Building rental agreement specifically prohibiting drugs and noting that events must be over, and the building vacated, by midnight. Butler said that agreement and other ordinances will be looked at for further modifications.
“We are going to take a look at all of it,” she stated. “The town is on top of it.”
Phillips said she is not satisfied with talk and plans to attend Tuesday’s regular meeting to let her voice be heard.
“I want an answer. There’s no excuse for this,” an irate Phillips asserted. “There are too many houses around here and someone could have gotten killed. Some people keep their mouth shut but I’m not going to keep quiet. If this doesn’t get resolved, I’m going to get an attorney and sue the town.
“We’ve been up in arms about this community center for years,” Phillips said. “We’re putting up with too much.”
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