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East Spencer board to discuss future development opportunities, firetruck update

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

EAST SPENCER — The town board will hear a number of presentations during Tuesday’s meeting that address future development opportunities for the town as well as hear what options it has for the firetruck shortage.

One of the first presentations will be for the Long Street Corridor Study, which includes taking a look at four neighborhood planning areas with the hopes of addressing housing options, eliminate blight, developer and small business incentives as well as the continued redevelopment of Royal Giants Park.

The idea is to have a few focus groups that would primarily look at businesses and appearances, housing and affordable financing, and recreation and learning.

The town hopes to attract new businesses like banks, pharmacies and markets as well as a neighborhood hardware store and wants to establish a business guild or community development corporation with a business incubator. East Spencer has already been working on eliminating vacant and abandoned homes. Through the housing and financing focus group the town hopes to engage in community partnerships with churches, neighborhoods, businesses and community leaders.

The board will also hear an update about the firetruck shortage. The town has one working firetruck, and others are in need of replacement. Fire Chief Josh Smith told the board at its August meeting that the town needs more than one working truck to be at adequate operation. The reserve engine, a 1993 KME, is the only operable truck. The department has only the one engine and two sport utility vehicles that are usable. The town does have mutual aid with the Salisbury city and Spencer fire departments as well as other nearby departments.

In August, Smith, along with a group of firefighters including a firefighter who maintains the fleet, made an overnight trip to Alabama to visit Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus to look at options for newer trucks.

“This is a process that can take years to complete and has been done within several weeks,” Interim Town Manager F.E. Isenhour said in his report to the board.

The cost to purchase new trucks is not available in the general fund budget, and at this point the only way to pay for it would be to raise taxes and cut employees, which Isenhour said in his report was not something he would recommend. One option he did recommend in his report was to repair the existing truck. The board is expected to make a decision about the firetruck at the meeting.

The board also plans to hear and discuss a presentation about the intent of the town to enter into an agreement to combine efforts with the East Spencer Housing Authority for a collaborative housing program. The idea is to pool the resources for both entities. The board’s goal is to pledge to work in concert with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (U.S. HUD) officials, state and local agencies and interest groups that are “committed to improving housing opportunities and program expansion in East Spencer,” according to a resolution.

The town has already worked to remove about 50 dilapidated and abandoned houses within the last five years and has acquired a number of grants including a CDBG Housing Repair and Rehab Grant, USDA Housing Preservation Grant and Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) grant among others. 

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall, 105 S. Long St.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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