Imagine Kannapolis plans approved by City Council, ‘focus areas’ unveiled for community

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, June 29, 2022

KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis City Council introduced the next step in the vision for the city’s future on Monday night.

City Manager Mike Legg presented to the council seven “focus areas” for the Imagine Kannapolis planning process which the community has been designing over the past several months.

The focus areas are meant to not only uphold the “qualities” of the city but also to offer residents input into what they want Kannapolis to look like 10-20 years in the future.

Before the resolution for these focus areas was unanimously approved by the council members, Legg detailed what each of these focus areas would address within the community:

Health and safety

One aspect of the Health and Safety portion of the Imagine Kannapolis plan will focus on “major capital projects” potentially involving building new fire stations, the Cabarrus Regional Public Safety Training facility and renovations to current fire stations as well.

Other safety projects discussed in the plan include resources allocated toward the improvement of lighting along city streets, additional bike lanes along these roads, and the introduction of new technologies to improve safety for drivers in the area as well.

This focus area will also look into the development of programs sponsored by Kannapolis for youth sports and after-school programs along with programming and support for the local senior population.

Human and social needs

The primary focus of this section of the plan is to look for solutions dealing with homelessness and transitional housing within the city.

The focus area will also attempt to assess and introduce plans to improve diversity and economic mobility among the residents of Kannapolis.

Some of the specific issues that the groups working in this area will focus on include finding affordable housing options, addressing any perceived issues in the criminal justice system and examining city policies toward providing opportunities for the local minority business community.

Economic vibrancy and employment

A Downtown Revitalization focus group highlights this area of the Imagine Kannapolis plan. Community members will be tasked with creating recommendations for the city pertaining to the United States Performance Center, growth and a vision moving forward for the North Carolina Research Campus and introducing further outdoor dining options.

This focus area will also look into creating “anchors,” such as parks and museums in the Midway and North Kannapolis communities in the city. The expectation for this group will be to find ways to the area more attractive to nightlife, entertainment and business development and activity.

This portion of the plan also will look into ways to strengthen the Cannon Boulevard business corridor and to give the city a regional presence as a destination between Charlotte and Winston-Salem’s economic hubs.

Education and learning

This aspect of the plan aims to offer a comprehensive assessment of the city’s K-12 education system. Community members and consultants hired to work in this portion of the plan will look into infrastructure for the schools, programs available to students and funding for district activities.

The education and learning focus area will also be tasked with attracting new teaching professionals to the area while, at the same time, looking for ways to further train the current educators in the city.

Arts, tourism and cultural vitality

This portion of the plan is asked to both look into ways to preserve the history of Kannapolis while, at the same time, improving the community as a tourist destination.

The task groups for this will recommend plans regarding renovations for the Gem Theatre, usage of the N.C. Music Hall of Fame and possible improvements needed for the Atrium Health Ballpark to align with Major League Baseball standards.

Natural and built environment

The most comprehensive aspect of the Imagine Kannapolis plan focuses on the environment within the city. The plan will include considerations for creating “Eastside” and “Westside” parks, skate parks, pickleball courts and more.

There will also be recommendations offered from task groups in this focus area on improvements that could be made to currently existing parks and greenways around the community.

In addition to this, the plan will attempt to find options for beautification programs that can remove litter, plant trees and improve code enforcement for local neighborhoods and thoroughfares.

Transportation solutions will also be identified through this focus area, with the plan highlighting the need for more insights and recommendations involving improvements for the CK Rider system, potential road diets along MLK Avenue among other junctures, and other solutions for traffic congestion in general.

Government leadership and service

The Imagine Kannapolis plan’s final focus area will establish recommendations for how the city can improve their current facilities, ranging from the creation of a new warehouse to up-fits at city hall and retrofits at other buildings for individuals with disabilities.

This area will also explore ways to support a “pipeline of leadership” and enhance volunteering opportunities throughout the community.

Moving forward

Imagine Kannapolis may still be in the planning and development stage, but the approval of the latest resolution for these seven focus areas is a significant step toward tangible change.

“Over the last decade we have made much progress in rebounding from the devastating loss of our largest employer. We have demonstrated that we can revitalize our downtown and attract new companies to our city. Now, it is time to go a step further. What does our city look like in the next decade? What is our vision for our city?” Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant said.

To ensure that this vision comes to fruition, the city council and Legg agreed to create 13 primary and 13 secondary “focus groups” that are divided among each of the focus areas.

These groups will consist of several that are citizen-led and others that are guided by members of the local government, with input from the community still accounted for.

“We are cognizant of people having a lot on their plates. While this is a very important process for our city, we want the focus groups to be collaborative, represent the demographics of our city, to be thorough, but to also be fun and rewarding as we work to discover what our future will be,” Legg said.

Those interested in participating in these groups can find out more information or apply online at www.kannapolisnc.gov/ImagineKannapolis.

Applications are due by July 18 and any questions in the meantime can be directed to Annette Privette Keller, the city’s director of communications, at 704-920-4311.

Comments