Downtown King will soon be a much more welcoming place for visitors, thanks to several local investments and a $40,000 grant the city was recently awarded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
City Manager Homer Dearmin said the city received confirmation of the grant earlier this month and will match the grant funding to provide a total of $80,000 to build new sidewalks and streetlights in the downtown area.
He said the sidewalks, which will be constructed on West Dalton Street from the downtown area, past the library to Recreation Acres, and from East Dalton Street along Maple Street to King Central Park, will provide a fully connected sidewalk route between the city’s two main parks.
“We will also be adding additional lighting on East Dalton,” said Dearmin. “Our plan is to match the decorative lighting that has already been established on the other end of the street to have a consistent look on the other side. The lights will be decorative as well as functional.
“Both of these improvements will certainly enhance our downtown area and hopefully drive more pedestrian and vehicle traffic to the downtown area,” he added. “We are hoping that by adding the lighting and sidewalks, together with the city efforts to increase parking in the downtown area, we will have a significant public investment to go along with the private investments our businesses have already made in the last year or so.”
Work on the new lighting and sidewalks is expected to begin in March or April, and Dearmin said he hoped to have most of the projects completed close to the annual King Fest celebration in Central Park in October.
“We will do our best to minimize any disruption to our residents, visitors and businesses,” added Dearmin.
He said the city is also working on increasing parking in the downtown area with plans to construct a new parking lot in the vacant lot across the street from city hall.
“We will not be able to start on that until the new budget is adopted,” said Dearmin. “It is entirely contingent on budget approval, but right now the plan is to be able to start with that this summer and hopefully have it complete by the fall as well.”
The new parking area is expected to add 60 to 70 much needed parking spaces, and Dearmin said the city would work with local businesses to provide appropriate signage to direct visitors to the new lot.
He added that the city’s Community Appearance Committee had been invigorated by suggestions in the recent Stokes County Comprehensive Land Use plan and would be meeting soon to discuss recommendations for other enhancements that could be made in the downtown area like additional benches, trash cans or flower planters.
“There is a lot of excitement about things we can do to make downtown more attractive,” he said.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.