Kissell, Kannapolis officials open new road

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 5, 2011

By Hugh Fisher
KANNAPOLIS — The Carver community has a new link with Kannapolis.
And residents will now have a higher quality of life, officials say, thanks to a new road built using federal funds.
A new stretch of Wood Avenue, connecting the Carver neighborhood with Dale Earnhardt Boulevard, was officially opened Thursday.
U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell joined Mayor Bob Misenheimer, members of the Kannapolis City Council and representatives from community groups for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting.
Kissell, a Democrat whose 8th District includes the neighborhood, then joined city leaders and Habitat for Humanity staff in visiting a newly refurbished Habitat home in the neighborhood.
City Manager Mike Legg said the total cost of the road project was approximately $800,000 — all from federal Community Development Block Grant funds, which are awarded annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development based on poverty figures.
As a HUD entitlement city, Kannapolis receives a grant of about $400,000 every year, Legg said. Those funds must be spent on projects to improve low-income neighborhoods.
Past projects have included buying and repairing dilapidated homes and constructing sidewalks in high-traffic areas with many pedestrians.
Legg said the Carver neighborhood has needed this new connection to the surrounding city for some time. Before the project began, the former Hudson Street branched off from Dale Earnhardt Boulevard and dead-ended at James Street.
From there, a dirt path was used by residents to cut through adjacent woods.
“It was literally not even a road,” Legg said. “We created a new road that connects the neighborhood to Dale Earnhardt Boulevard,” Legg said.
“It’s a great difference from what it was,” Kannapolis Councilman Ken Geathers said.
Geathers said he hopes the new road will spur more development of affordable housing “in an area that’s starved for it.”
“This is just the beginning of great things to happen in the Carver district,” Geathers said.
Misenheimer called it “a big day” for the city and thanked Kissell and HUD for the government’s support of Kannapolis.
“I hope you can see the impact that federal CDBG funds have,” Misenheimer said.
About 15 residents were on hand to witness the ribbon-cutting. Joyce Gibson, a resident and community leader, praised officials for their work on behalf of citizens.
“We all are very happy to have this road come through,” Gibson said.
The effort began three years ago, she said, in meetings with the city to determine how best to improve the Carver community.
“This is the end result,” Gibson said. “And we want everybody to know that we are happy with what we see.”
Ethel Caldwell, who lives on Denver Street, said she believes the new street and sidewalks will improve residents’ quality of life.
“Anything that is going to help the community, to beautify the community, I’m all for that,” Caldwell said.
“Five years from now, we won’t know this place,” she said. “It’ll be altogether a new place.”
Cooperative Christian Ministries and Habitat for Humanity representatives were also on hand for the ceremony. Afterward, officials visited the new home that Shawn and Ebony Gill and their three children will move into in the coming weeks.
The newly refurbished home is the result of a partnership between these and other community organizations
The Gills have been in a home ownership program for eight months, Shawn said.
“We feel good. Things have been great,” he said.
Touring the house, Kissell said it had “a feeling of success.”
“This just feels great,” Kissell said. “Talking to the people of this neighborhood, the pride is there at seeing these partnerships coming together.”