Cooleemee palns workshop on use of old mill

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 10, 2013

COOLEEMEE — If you have an idea about what the community needs or wants to see in the old cotton mill, you may share it at the Mill Design Workshops being held on Saturday, May 18.
“There are many local people who dream of starting their own business or have amazing ideas about what would draw people here to the mill,” says Mayor Lynn Rumley. “The ideas we hear from people at these workshops will have a significant influence on the direction of this project over the next decade,” she adds.
Taking place at the VFW Post 1119 hall on N.C. 801 in Cooleemee, three workshop sessions will be held that Saturday at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. There will be morning refreshments, sandwiches for lunch and afternoon snacks.
“We are only asking for two hours of your time,” Commissioner Jean Snead points out. “We plan to write down each idea on its own index card and these ideas will be used to pursue potential business and institutional tenants to fill the mill.” Snead believes everyone can take two hours out of their schedules to help determine Cooleemee’s future.
Each workshop will be organized into five stations where smaller group conversations can take place. Those attending will move from one station to another about every 20 minutes. Mill designer Mac Jordan and architect Andrew Idatridis will be at one station to explain the stages necessary to redevelop a mill—from design, marketing, finding investors and utilizing historic tax credits.
Local architect John Fuller and Cari Hopson, a community planning adviser from the Department of Commerce, will run a station that asks residents to think about how to preserve the places and streetscapes they most cherish in Cooleemee. “If each of you would bring a photo to the workshop of a Cooleemee vista or streetscape you think is most beautiful or unique, that will help,” Fuller said.
“How will the Mill Project affect you and your family?” That is the question John Chandler’s station will explore. Many want to know whether mill redevelopment will result in a tax hike.
Mill project manager Rumley will also run a station. “I want to share our list of the mill project’s long range goals,” she says. “If there’s no consensus on what we hope Cooleemee will look like 20 years from now, it will be hard to guide this huge effort.” A copy of the project’s tentative list of goals can be found on the town bulletin board near the post office, at the library in the shopping center and on the town’s website.