Walnut Cove considering downtown improvements


By Nicholas Elmes - nelmes@civitasmedia.com



Driving through downtown Walnut Cove may be very different experience in coming years if plans crafted by Destination by Design come to fruition.

The revitalization plans presented to the Walnut Cove Board of Commissioners last month provide two possible ways of slowing traffic through the downtown area to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment.

The first concept would create angled parking along the west side of Main Street, creating more parking spaces, and use a roundabout gateway on the southern end of town coupled with curb “bump outs” on Main Street to slow traffic.

The second concept would maintain the current parallel parking, but install a number of planted medians in the center of Main Street to calm traffic. This plan also uses a roundabout and and curb bump outs.

Destination by Design’s Eric Woolridge told commissioners that the revitalization plan also focused on two areas in town, Fowler Park and the site of the old hotel, where public investment could spur economic development for the town.

He said his company was cognizant that the proposed changes would come with a hefty price tag — one that may be too large for the town to handle at one time.

“We do not want to stop the progress on this, so we have broken it down into three phases,” said Woolridge. “Phase One focuses on the park and the northern gateway to the town. The park component opens us up to significant grant funding.”

The revitalization plan suggests creating an amphitheater and stage in the park accompanied with a new adventure playground.

Woolridge estimated that the park improvements could cost $500,000 but said the town could be eligible for a dollar-for-dollar matching grant for up to $250,000 for that part of the project.

Phase 1 would also include improvements for the entire intersection at Fifth Street and Main Street, which could cost over $400,000.

“The northern gateway serves as an ideal pilot project,” said Woolridge. “This project is relatively inexpensive, contains many of the key elements proposed throughout the entire streetscape plan, and will significantly improve the town’s character as an independent project.”

He said Phase 2 would focus on the town’s southern gateway, installing a roundabout at Old Town Road and extending improvements up to the intersection of Second Street and Main Street. That phase is projected to cost $1.2 million.

The third phase would focus on the rest of Main Street and is projected to cost just over $2 million.

“The success of the previously completed phases should establish public support to realize the entire streetscape plan,” said Woolridge. “If the final phase is not completed, the two gateways will independently serve as a significant enhancements to Walnut Cove’s commercial center.”

Woolridge said he had worked on a number of park projects in the past and could help the town achieve grant funding, providing the board with a six step plan to prepare to apply for the grant next spring.

Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.

By Nicholas Elmes

nelmes@civitasmedia.com

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