Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander makes “state of the city address”

Published 12:10 am Thursday, May 30, 2024

SALISBURY — A “state of the city address” made by Mayor Karen Alexander was released on May 28 to summarize the major achievements from 2023 and to preview to the public the direction Salisbury is taking and what is being done to adapt for that.

“2023 was a dynamic year for the city of Salisbury. Our accomplishments this past year are nothing short of impressive as we continue to navigate the after effects of the pandemic and prepare for the growth at our doorstep,” Alexander said.

Alexander said public safety, infrastructure, growth, neighborhoods and planning, downtown initiatives, quality of life and grant opportunities are the “areas of critical importance for our community.” 

Alexander described the health and safety for residents and visitors as the city’s “top priority.”

In the past year, Patrick “P.J.” Smith was sworn in as Salisbury’s chief of police after the retirement of Jerry Stokes. To go along with the new hire, the Salisbury Police Department received a $25,000 grant from Duke Energy to pay for Salisbury’s “Cultivating Community Conversations” series. 

To assist the Salisbury Fire Department, $1 million from the city’s general fund was approved to be used for a new fire engine, and Fire Station 3, to be located on Mahaley Avenue, is expected to be completed by the end of this year. 

The state of North Carolina bestowed Salisbury a $10 million grant to go towards public safety as well.

With everything Salisbury has on the books, infrastructure is a variable the city will not be ignoring. Salisbury-Rowan Utilities agreed with Cube Hydro on a $2 million share for a new raw water pump station on the Yadkin River. Public works has two drainage projects scheduled in 2024 on Jackson Street and Long Street that will total $2.6 million. 

Salisbury’s “main street project” is going to get off the ground later in 2024, with the city coming into a $9 million agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to aid in the costs. The city council committed $1 million for street paving in 2023, $200,000 more compared to 2022. 

Alexander said Salisbury is on track to “continue its growth trajectory over the next 10 years.” 

Five voluntary annexation requests of 102 acres were made last year and a portion of those annexations will provide $119 million in capital investment to Salisbury that includes a “hub” for DHL, an international shipping company. 

Due to the rise in these type of requests, Salisbury created its own land and development services department to oversee the increased workload. 

Salisbury has partnered with multiple outside firms for some of planning and neighborhoods’ major projects. They have collaborated with the University of North Carolina School of Government Development Finance Initiative for the new Kesler Mill site development, Osceola Council on Aging on the upcoming Ford City Motor Lofts, and Thomas P. Miller and Associates for the city’s 10-year housing strategy. All projects encompass the “Forward 2040” plan. 

Alexander said downtown Salisbury is “one of the crown jewels of our city.” Salisbury erected electric vehicle charging stations near downtown, the municipal service district was also expanded to incorporate First Presbyterian Church, and Alexander said the 2023 Cheerwine Festival had an impact of $5 million and was attended by 100,000 people. 

The quality of life for residents has not been lost on those who work for Salisbury. Back in November, voters chose for elected officials to have four-year staggered terms. Salisbury was given a $3 million grant from the state for a microtransit pilot program, and even though the city lost a stop at the Salisbury Station, a possible Amtrak line from Salisbury to Asheville is being considered, potentially bringing in 100,000 travelers a year. 

In 2023, Salisbury obtained more than $21 million in grants. 

“We won’t rest on our laurels. We still have much to do to make Salisbury a destination, an employer, and a community of choice,” Alexander said.

Raftelis, a Charlotte-based firm, is helping Salisbury with their first strategic plan. Alexander explained Salisbury is at a “pivotal point in our future” as they apply for grants, center on public safety, and invest in infrastructure. 

“We will protect the unique values and qualities that make Salisbury special,” Alexander said.