Park Plaza project in Spencer remains on schedule, within budget

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 26, 2021

SPENCER – When construction on the Park Plaza project began early this year, with the exception of some materials in front of the building, it did not look like a construction site.

Fast forward to March, and the front of the building is fenced off and the awnings have been removed. There have been a handful of change orders, but Town Manager Peter Franzese said the project is on budget and on schedule. Town staff this fall plan to move into the new space, which will host the administration and police department.

Franzese said contractors experienced some issues with quickly getting materials, which is an industry-wide problem at the moment, but the project has stayed on schedule. The town, architect Keith Wales, the contractor and the USDA meet to discuss progress on the project each month. The town is also in the process of picking furniture for the new building. There are samples in the town hall lobby for people to try.

The Board of Aldermen has also promised to pursue building a park downtown. The park was originally included in the Park Plaza renovations, but it had a $1 million price tag. When initial bids on the project came in about double what the town was hoping to pay, it pared down the project.

Mayor Jonathan Williams said he is committed to making that project happen. The town plans to kick off a capital campaign to turn it into a reality.

“What I don’t want to happen is a big gap between finishing the town hall and starting the park,” Williams said.

Williams sees the park project as another “piece of the puzzle” for revitalizing Spencer. He wants a place for families to have picnics and for the venue to host music, food trucks and events that will give people that will give people a sense of community.

Spencer’s experience is similar to a number of other small towns that lost its major industry. When the rail business picked up and left, it was devastating.

Williams wants to take that experience and flip it, making Spencer a model for small town revitalization. He said the board needs to not be afraid of failure and keep its focus on making the town a better place.

“If you never try it will never happen,” Williams said.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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