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South Ellis Street in for improvements because of $100,000 grant for BlockWork

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — A $100,000 grant from the Lowe’s 100 Hometowns initiative will allow the city to consider larger projects for the 600 and 700 block of South Ellis Street during this year’s BlockWork project.

Now in its 11th year, BlockWork was formed by the Community Appearance Commission’s Neighborhood Leaders Alliance group to bring residents and community volunteers together to build cleaner and safer neighborhoods one block at a time. Projects typically include carpentry, sidewalk repairs, landscaping and general clean-up across various neighborhood blocks chosen from a nomination process.

Earlier this month, the city of Salisbury was one of 100 locations selected from more than 2,220 submissions for a $100,000 grant from Lowe’s 100 Hometowns initiative, which celebrates Lowe’s centennial. The national retailer started in Wilkesboro in 1921. A total of 100 projects across 37 states were chosen to rebuild areas prone to natural disasters, repair housing, restore community centers and revive green spaces.

This year, city staff and volunteers will visit the 600 and 700 blocks of South Ellis Street for the BlockWork project, scheduled for Oct. 23 to coincide with “National Make a Difference Day.” The neighborhoods are selected each year by a subcommittee composed of members of the Housing Advocacy and Community Appearance commissions. Urban design planner Alyssa Nelson, who manages BlockWork, said the selection committee met on July 20 to review 11 nominations after driving through each block before the meeting. Ultimately, the 600 and 700 blocks of South Ellis Street, which are located within the West Square Neighborhood, were selected because the locations had the most owner-occupied homes and are within close proximity to Salisbury High School. The city estimates there are 26 parcels with homes across both blocks. Other factors for the selection related to the other blocks nominated. A few were largely commercial and others were eligible for other grant funds, Nelson said.

South Ellis Street was nominated for BlockWork in 2018, but was not selected until this year. Nelson said its nomination three years ago is another reason it was selected. Other neighborhoods that received improvements from the BlockWork program include the 900 block of North Main Street, 800-900 blocks of West Monroe Street and the 400 block of South Lee Street.

The $100,000 grant will cover the costs of providing sidewalk improvements, landscaping, ADA-accessible features, tree and mulch installation as well as dumpsters. It will also allow the city to consider larger projects that weren’t financially feasible without additional funding. Examples of past larger projects include roofs, stucco repair, foreclosure purchases and large masonry projects, Nelson said. Larger projects for South Ellis are currently being determined, she added.

This year, Lowe’s will take part in a Red Vest Day on a Tuesday between now and the end of October, which means the city may have an additional work day in those blocks with the assistance of Lowe’s employees. Nelson said a date has not yet been set, but she is coordinating with Lowe’s representatives to discuss possible projects with their help.

Pastor Lincoln Roth of Maranatha Bible Church, located on Statesville Boulevard, nominated the city’s BlockWork program for the Lowe’s grant after volunteering in past years.

“I wasn’t sure how the project was funded each year, but thought it would be nice for it to have more money,” he said. “I got so much out of volunteering at BlockWork the last three years we did it. It’s just always so nice to give back to the community we love.”

Each year, $10,000 is allocated from the city’s budget for the BlockWork program, with any additional funding coming from other grants and donations.

“BlockWork is a success because of all the wonderful volunteers, sponsors and donors we work with each year,” Nelson said. “We’ve had large amounts of funds for past BlockWork events and it means we are able to take on larger projects, pay contractors where necessary, and in this year, we will likely have an additional work day with the folks from Lowe’s.”

Other North Carolina cities selected for Lowe’s 100 Hometowns grant program include Charlotte, Hickory, North Wilkesboro, Siler City, Elizabeth City and Selma.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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