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Kannapolis looks toward active future

KANNAPOLIS — City council members had walking and swimming on their minds Monday evening as they heard about the Parks and Recreation Department’s Master Plan.
Presented by Gary Mills, department director, and Derek Williams, principal of Site Solutions, the 10-year plan includes a capital improvement budget of $47 million, with priority projects listed at $15 million.
Those include:
• Expansion of Village Park
• Expansion of facilities at North Cabarrus Park
• Development of Irish Buffalo Creek Greenway
• Development of Rocky River Greenway
• Acquisition of property for community parks
• Acquisition and development of an east-side neighborhood park
Milles and Williams acknowledged that even the priority list was pricey. Council members seemed eager to explore partnerships with local agencies such as the YMCA that aren’t operating at full capacity to help provide programs.
“How tough would it be for cities to buy unused capacity and broker programs through that facility?” Mayor Darrell Hinnant asked.
Williams replied that he hadn’t heard of that concept, but that it had merit. “Looking for innovative ways to meet the needs of the community is a good idea.”
City Manager Mike Legg pointed out that such a partnership would have to mean equal access for all citizens, not just members of a particular facility.
Mills said that two public workshops had taken place on the master plan. There was also a random telephone survey to 200 households, and an online survey had 170 respondents.
Stakeholders were also interviewed.
Via telephone and online, green- ways and walking trails had the highest areas of interest.
A swimming facility ranked fourth on the telephone survey, but second on the online survey.
There was mixed response between the public workshops and the surveys as to whether the public would support a tax increase to fund these improvements, however.
There was also a call for the city to become involved in the operation of youth sports programs.
Mayor Pro Tem Roger Haas said he was intrigued by the idea of an aquatic facility, and asked if it could be self-sustaining based on fees.
Williams said that there were ways to generate revenues from recreation and swimming facilities. “Most agencies anticipate having some of the operational costs put back in by user fees.”
The master plan was to be submitted to the Parks and Recreation Commission on Aug. 12 for review. It will be presented to the public on Aug. 21, then brought back to City Council for approval at its Sept. 8 meeting.
Mills noted that the master plan provided the Parks and Recreation Department with a future vision and goals. But adoption of such a plan also allows the department to seek grants and apply for national accreditation, he said.
In other business, council voted unanimously to:
• Table a decision on a minimum housing code violation at 209 Rice St. for six months.
Jeff Wells, deputy planning director, said that the building inspector deemed the structure secure. “I expect there to be good progress between now and then. We are moving forward in a positive manner.”
• Demolish a structure at 1007 Fisher St. at a cost of $4,500, using Community Development Block Grant funds.
• Adopt an ordinance implementing mosquito infestation regulations.
In his report, Legg said that the North Kannapolis rail grade separation project has been delayed. A study over the next year will take a “fresh look” at 5th Street in Kannapolis, to determine where the grade separation should be.
Legg also said that the city has sold bonds for the financing of City Hall. A 3.2 percent interest rate was better than expected, he said, and the bonds will close Aug. 21.
Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.

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