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By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
Starting next week, the 100 block of East Fisher Street will be closed again to traffic as a city contractor begins installing brick pavers.
The Salisbury block will be closed entirely during the day. One lane of East Fisher Street will be open in the evenings while the new brick surface is being put into place.
Several businesses in the 100 block of East Fisher Street have suffered during the half-million-dollar streetscape improvement project, which began in June and is expected to extend into September.
Early in the project, during a lot of the utility work and street and sidewalk demolition, the street was closed to traffic during daytime work hours.
Pedestrian access was still available, but business owners complained that customers shunned the dust and dirt or assumed they were closed.
In recent weeks, the street has been open during the day while work progressed in other sections.
Lynn Raker, urban planner for the city, said work this week will include the pouring of driveway aprons in the 100 block of East Fisher Street. The aprons will be stamped and stained.
Other work this week will be the construction of sidewalks and the burying of utilities on South Lee Street.
Next week, besides the installation of brick pavers, work will include installation of new street lights on East Fisher Street and grading and preparation work for a corner parking plaza at South Lee and East Fisher streets.
Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz said City Council appreciated the patience of the businesses affected by the project, and she encouraged citizens to make a special effort to patronize them during the construction.
In a related matter, council approved $15,000 in grants toward $32,000 worth of improvements planned by the owners of the Thread Shed at 133 S. Main St.
The improvements include the repair of a brick one-story wall next to the Thread Shed’s parking area (and in view of East Fisher Street) and the installation of artwork panels on the wall.
The owners also plan to pave the 36-by-60-foot parking area with brick pavers and install landscaping borders.
If installed in connection with the city’s South Square Streetscape Project, the Thread Shed’s parking lot can benefit from the same unit prices for construction.
“The location of the lot is pivotal to the overall plan for improvements to the East Fisher Street ‘entertainment district,'” Raker said in a memo.
“The 2002 Downtown Salisbury Master Plan proposes the lot as a pocket park, and the owners have committed their full cooperation with Downtown Salisbury Inc. and the city for use of the lot for special events.
“Furthermore, as in the past, the lot would be available for public parking outside the Thread Shed’s hours of operation.”
The Community Appearance Commission asked council to consider a $5,000 Municipal Service District grant for improvements to the Thread Shed building and a $10,000 Innes Street incentive grant for improvements to the parking area.
The commission needed council’s approval because one of the grants was more than $5,000.
This year, the city has $22,000 available for Municipal Service District grants and $25,000 for Innes Street corridor grants.
The Municipal Service District grants have been in place for 26 years. In that time, Community Appearance Commission Chairman Barbara Perry said, the city has provided $352,000 in grants and seen $4.7 million in private investment.
The Innes Street grant program is 11 years old. The city has given $186,000 in incentive grants under that program and seen $3.5 million in private investment, Perry said.
Kluttz said the grants set aside for the Thread Shed, owned by the Loflin family, are a good example of a public-private partnership. Mayor Pro Tem Paul Woodson said the Loflins’ project will be “just another plus for us,” and Councilman Mark Lewis said it was important to strike on the project “while the iron is hot.”
Bill Safrit, who chairs the Municipal Service District and Innes Street grant committees, warned council that there are still 11 months left in the fiscal year and several applications for additional grants in the pipeline.
With the grants approved so far, the Innes Street grant program has only $9,217 left; the Municipal Service District program, $12,000.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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