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Editorial: Some Christmas gifts for Rowan County cities and towns

With Christmas just several days away, here are Christmas gift ideas for some of the municipalities in Rowan County.

Some ideas might come to fruition with a few months more time, but it would be a welcome sight to see them under the tree a little earlier.

Salisbury could use a deal to redevelop the Empire Hotel that’s sure to come to fruition. For too long, the hotel’s redevelopment has been a dream that’s remained just out of reach. The end to exclusive talks with Black Point Investments earlier this year was positive because it allowed the city to look for other options to bring more living space downtown. The September announcement also made real the speculation that Black Point Investments’ plans might not come to pass as proposed. This time, the city needs a deal with staying power.

Kannapolis, in particular, could use some additional hope that the COVID-19 pandemic is on a path to ending in the next few months and allowing for Minor League Baseball to have games in 2021. That hope might come in the form of news about better-than-expected success of vaccines or an expected spike in cases from Christmas gatherings that doesn’t materialize. The first game at Atrium Health Ballpark, home of the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, will be an exciting moment for the city’s downtown redevelopment.

China Grove could use a promise that there aren’t any more major road configuration changes and/or roundabouts in the immediate future. The city, its residents and motorists just passing through are well-acquainted with what it’s like to endure major road construction projects, with I-85’s widening and related changes have a disproportionate effect on the southern Rowan County town. China Grove residents would be A-OK with just using the road configurations they have now for a while. They’re still trying to figure out the roundabouts on N.C. 152.

Spencer could use roughly $1 million to include a park in its plans to redevelop Park Plaza. Originally included in redevelopment plans, the park was removed because of project costs. The park, however, will be a nice complement to redevelopment plans and be a welcome addition for businesses in the area and residents. The good news is that the town is committed to following through with the project. Maybe a similar model to Bell Tower Green in Salisbury (private fundraising) could be the answer in Spencer?

In the town of Faith, the folks behind Faith Academy would appreciate a deal to transfer ownership of the elementary school building in time for the new charter school’s opening in the fall. Faith Elementary will be closed by Rowan-Salisbury Schools at the end of the current school year, but Faith Academy charter school hopes to keep the doors open for generations of students to come.

East Spencer would welcome more entrepreneurs like the proprietors of Inspiru, a family-owned printing and logo design business, and Hamm’s Cafe as well as more folks like Floyd Peterson, who has fixed up a vacant home and plans to buy others and do the same. In addition to support from county leaders for a new interstate exit in town, the opening of new businesses and fixed-up homes have generated optimism for the future.

Cleveland could use a ribbon cutting and grand opening of the West Branch of the Rowan Public Library, which repurposed part of the former Cleveland Elementary School. Difficulties associated with COVID-19 have delayed its opening.

Two bonus gifts: a moratorium on the construction on new Dollar General stores and a left turn signal on East Innes Street for motorists turning onto Lee Street. Dollar General stores have grown like weeds in the county. And while their exterior appearance has become nicer, the stores still attract significant opposition in places where they’re planned. Sometimes during generic rezoning hearings, citizens turn out just in case there’s a chance of a Dollar General. A left turn signal on East Innes Street, meanwhile, would be a welcome addition for anyone who’s been stuck in a line of cars waiting for a single person to turn onto South or North Lee streets. The world would be a slightly better place to live.

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