More businesses, jobs wishes for Boykins

Published 10:03 am Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Boykins seasonal resident Don Adams speaks during a Monday evening meeting to discuss the town's future as Mike McManus, owner of Boykins Beans & Ice Cream, listens.

BOYKINS–Cousins Maggie Ahkey and Evie Jean-Louis moved to Boykins from New York in hopes of finding a safe place to raise their combined 12 children.

Ahkey found what she was looking for but told the more than 50 people attending a Monday meeting to map out Boykins’ future that she would love to see more unity among the town’s 564 residents.

“There’s a lot of division of people here,” she said. “The children would do better to see adults set positive examples of respect and love.”

Mona Chapman ensured Ahkey it’s possible.

“Stay involved,” said Chapman, a community planner with the state Department of Housing and Community Development, who oversaw a two-night workshop to see what residents want for Boykins. “Hopefully, we will make that happen.”

Boykins in December received a $25,000 state grant to explore and pursue options for its future. Workshops were held Monday and Tuesday to get ideas for economic restructuring. Those attending reviewed the past and present status of the town and envisioned its next 10 years.

There seemed to be a general consensus of what people are hoping for in Boykins – more businesses and more jobs. Others, like business owners Margaret and Jack Milroy, expressed additional wishes.

Raised in Boykins, Margaret Milroy returned 16 years ago after a 50-year absence.

“I would like to see the passenger trains from Boykins to Norfolk,” she said.

Jack Wilroy would like a more vibrant downtown.

“When I was a boy, on Saturdays if you came downtown, you had to weave your way though the people,” he said. “It was wall-to-wall people. I’d like to see that again.”

Seasonal resident Michelle Adam would like to see Main Street revived, while Kiyante Fancher, a home-schooled high school junior, said he would like an upgraded skate park, soccer team and movie theater.

“Franklin’s shut down, and if we had one, we’d be the center of Southampton County,” he said.