Spencer holding community feedback sessions for updated parks plan

Published 12:04 am Thursday, January 20, 2022

SPENCER — The town of Spencer is holding a pair of feedback sessions later this month to help shape the future of town parks and prepare for a major grant opportunity.

The meetings will run from 3 to 6 p.m. on Monday and Jan. 31. They will be drop-in sessions held at the new Spencer Town Hall at the old Park Plaza facility off of Salisbury Avenue. The town needs to update its 2014 parks and recreation master plan and include a public feedback element for its application for a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant.

Spencer hopes the grant can fund a park on Salisbury Avenue near the new Town Hall. The grants have helped fund other nearby park projects, including the Davidson County side of Yadkin River Park and Salisbury’s recently opened Bell Tower Green.

The plan and the feedback sessions have some other benefits as well: they will help shape the future of Spencer’s other parks.

“The intent of the master plan is to align the community’s expectations with the facilities,” Spencer Special Projects Planner Joe Morris said.

He pointed to pickleball as an example, noting the popularity of the sport in nearby communities was not something anticipated a decade ago

“It should be a relatively dynamic process,” Morris said.

Morris said the budget adopted late last year contained funding for future PARTF grants and the town was advised to submit a pre-application document by March 15. After that is approved, the town will submit a final application by May 2.

“There’s a little bit of an urgency around getting the public’s input,” Morris said, noting the input is required and it contributes to an application’s score to have an up-to-date parks and recreation plan.

Benesch, a design firm the town has contracted for design work on the Yadkin River trailhead project and a park near Town Hall, is bringing in a planning consultant for the sessions. Input from the sessions will be compiled into a report. The firm merged with the company behind the town’s 2014 plan and has access to the historic files on its creation as well.

Spencer is also looking to survey the community beginning in February. Town Manager Peter Franzese said the survey will be broad, covering parks and recreation as well as feedback on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the community as the town prepares to use American Rescue Act relief funding.

Franzese said the town will be fine tuning the survey during the next few weeks.

The town is working with Centralina Regional Council to create a spending plan for its relief funding.

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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