Riverkeeper assists with Kinston revitalization project

An abandoned home in the Lincoln City neighborhood, once a thriving Black community before Hurricane Floyd in 1999.

Community members in Kinston are aiming to revive a once-thriving area decimated by a hurricane, and Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop has been invited to be a part of it.

Last Saturday, Sam joined other stakeholders for the Lincoln Center Rising meeting at Golden Progress Church, where Pastor Robert Koonce first shared the history of Lincoln City.

“It was pretty inspiring. Lincoln City was founded by former slaves forced to settle there because it was seen as a non-desirable part of town — it’s in the floodplain,” Sam said. “It actually became a very thriving cultural center, just a bustling hub for the black community.”

That was, until 1999, when Hurricane Floyd flooded the neighborhood, and most property owners were bought out by FEMA in the years after.

“Now it’s overgrown, lots of abandoned houses. It’s really sad, and the older people have said the younger generations don’t even know what Lincoln City was,” Sam said.

Courtesy of an Environmental Enhancement Grant, those who do remember Lincoln City, or have heard stories about it, are now brainstorming ways to revitalize the mostly abandoned area on the southeast side of Kinston.

“We talked a lot of about ownership, getting the community back to a place of ownership and pride in that area,” Sam said.

One potential project is construction of nature trails where nature is reclaiming abandoned land.

Where Sam, and Sound Rivers, come in has to do with water quality: Adkin Branch, a tributary of the Neuse River, runs through the neighborhood. Sound Rivers was asked to weigh in when the initial EEG grant application was written and wrote a letter of support for the Lincoln City Rising, which was previously called Kinston Cares.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop (right) is representing Sound Rivers at the Lincoln City Rising planning meetings.

Sam has since launched an Adkin Branch water-sampling project with students at Lenoir Community College and is hoping to expand to other schools in the area.

“What we’re doing is envisioning reengagement with the community and getting community members engaged in protecting water quality,” she said. “The area around there has a lot of assets, and the Neuse and Adkin Branch are some of those assets.”