The City of Clinton has almost an extra $100,000 to spend on the downtown thanks to a state budget allocation.
The N.C. General Assembly allocated $94,340 to several communities, including Clinton, in its fiscal plan. The funds, provided by way of the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division and members of the General Assembly, must be used for a downtown project.
Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose discussed the funds during a recent City Council meeting. She said the city was given notice of the award in August and there were deadlines and reporting requirements involved.
“The City of Clinton as well as several other communities across the state were the beneficiaries of these awards,” Rose remarked.
With the project proposal due this week, Rose offered several downtown revitalization options for Council to consider at its meeting last week. The projects need to be completed by Spring 2017. Rose said the funds could be spent on one option or a combination of several.
“We don’t have to expend the $94,000 on just one project,” Rose pointed out. “It can be combination of several of these things.”
Downtown property and business owners have expressed their desire for more benches, recycling and trash receptacles downtown, and the city’s pedestrian and bicycle plans also call for the addition of nice bike racks. Another option floated by Rose and discussed by Council members included textured crosswalks at main intersections in the downtown courthouse square.
“These are a few things that would make an impact on our downtown visually,” Rose stated, noting options were compiled from requests of citizens and Council members, and recommended by the Clinton Main Street Program’s Design and Promotion Committee.
Among all the possible options proposed were:
• An overall “sprucing up” of downtown Clinton by way of improved landscaping, additional trash and recycling receptacles, benches and bicycle racks
• Textured crosswalks
• Additional lighting, to include possible up lighting of street trees and City Market trees, as well as installation of lighting underneath the canopy of the City Market structure. There is currently no lighting underneath the structure for evening events.
• A mural for downtown Clinton
• An expanded facade grant program, which would award larger grants for some buildings which, to date, have been unable to be accomplished by some property owners based on the size of the structure, improvements needed and high cost associated. Proposals would be competitive and required to meet certain criteria
• Development and funding of a Downtown Revolving Loan Fund, which would be used to loan money for code-related improvements to historic structures in the Downtown District
The Council ultimately gave its blessing to move forward with getting cost estimates for textured crosswalks, as well as additional trash and recycling receptacles, benches and bicycle racks, with the initial idea that it be a 70-30 split, respectively between the crosswalks and the “sprucing up” items.
“This would make our downtown more pedestrian-friendly and attractive,” Rose noted of the elements. “We have a lot of businesses investing a lot of money in our downtown, and they certainly expect that we are to keep the downtown looking nice.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.