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Kannapolis Council wants less litter, better first impression

KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis City Council has beautification on its mind. First, however, it needs to figure out a way to keep litter out of the city’s major corridors.
Council spent the majority of its meeting Monday evening discussing corridor beautification.
“There is a culture change needed,” City Manager Mike Legg pointed out. “For it to be a community-based solution, there has to be a change in the mindset.”
Beautification, Legg noted, is part of the city’s economic development plan. “Investors look at the way a community looks and feels.”
The primary gateways to the city could use attention because of litter, high grass and weeds, said Sharnelle Simpson, environmental outreach coordinator. “If we really want to make a great first impression, we want these areas to look nice.”
She and Wilmer Melton, director of public works, said staff had explored several options of cleaning up the areas, including community service workers and prison workers. However, Melton said, “It’s extremely hard for us to sustain a level of service needed with that type of group.”
The next step was bringing services including mowing, edging, litter pick-up, weed control and street sweeping in-house or contracting them. Prices ranged from $440,589 to $485,829 annually for every other week versus weekly for in-house services, and $512,429 to $928,429 a year for every other week versus weekly for contract services. With the in-house option, the money would be used to fund salaries and purchase and maintain equipment, Melton said.
None of this money is in the current budget.
“I hate we’re seeing this so late in the year,” Councilman Tom Kincaid said. “I see this as a year-round project. But we want to be a million-dollar city, and it’s expensive to do this. This is a problem we need to look at very strongly.”
All but one of the 16 corridor areas are state-maintained.
“I would let them continue to maintain, and then we supplement in those areas,” Melton said.
Council agreed that an education component was key to any success a beautification program might have.
“We’ve gotta teach people within the city that it’s not good to litter,” Councilman Roger Haas said. “Somewhere along the way, we have to address the problem, and not just the results of what the problem is doing.”
Kincaid inquired as to whether “do not litter” signs could be put up. “I don’t remember the last time I saw a ‘do not litter’ sign in Kannapolis.”
“This is a community pride thing for me,” Councilman Ryan Dayvault said. “We need to encourage people to clean up after themselves.”
“There’s a certain element of people who are gonna litter, whether we put signs out or not,” Councilman Doug Wilson said. “People who litter simply don’t care. We need to write more tickets — that might have a little more teeth to it.”
Council spent another good chunk of time reviewing its Wayfinding Project with Irene Sacks, director of business affairs. Wayfinding uses signage to direct visitors and residents to various locations and attractions in the city.
Sacks noted that the old Cannon Village signs have been removed, and that new City of Kannapolis signs will go up soon. Another phase of the project is blue and white signs that will direct visitors to local attractions. Some 45 of these signs are going up, at a cost of about $9,000. Council must next decide what information to put on the signs. Once people are downtown, Legg said, pedestrian signage takes over, which is the third phase of the project.
Council requested that the green City of Kannapolis signs be put up by Memorial Day.
In his report, Legg mentioned upcoming events, including noting that the Mustang Club of America would be leaving Friday around 6 p.m. from Charlotte Motor Speedway to drive to Kannapolis, with some 800 vehicles attempting to set a world record for the largest caravan of cars.
“There could be thousands of people here in Kannapolis,” Legg said. “We just don’t know. It’s going to be an exciting time.”
In other business, the council:
• Recognized Kevin Cox as firefighter of the year and Kirk Beard as officer of the year for the Kannapolis Fire Department.
• Recognized Gentry Nesbitt as the Explorer captain of the year, Osbeida Benitez as Explorer of the year, and Clarissa Gogolin as recipient of the Bradley E. Jordan Award.
• Unanimously approved demolition for a property at 600 Ford St. Community Block Development Grant funds have been approved, at a cost about $10,000.
• Voted unanimously to table an ordinance to demolish a residence of 1700 Chapman Ave. The homeowner, Marilou Hubbard, appeared before council and explained that her family had been involved in a typhoon in the Philippines, and she was assisting them, thus the reason for the delay in bringing the house back up to code. She wants to renovate the property as a residence for her adult children, she said.
“Now I have people working on the house,” she said. “Please give me a chance. I don’t want to demolish my house.”
“We will be back here in 90 days asking you where you are with renovation,” Mayor Darrell Hinnant said.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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