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Talk of our Towns 

Troy Receives Main Street Communities Designation

The Town of Troy recently joined the ranks of ‘North Carolina Main Street Communities,’ a designation municipalities earn by demonstrating a series of commitments to restore economic vitality to historic downtown districts. The designation was announced by the North Carolina Main Street & Rural Planning Center, a unit of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

“Downtown districts are vital engines of economic growth, especially in our smaller and midsize towns,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla, III. “We congratulate the community leaders in Troy who have made this important commitment to improve the economic well-being of its citizens.”

Troy, which previously participated in a Main Street development program for smaller towns now joins 63 active and full-fledged Main Street communities in North Carolina. Among other commitments, the flagship Main Street communities
must employ a full-time paid professional dedicated to downtown economic development, establish an active board of directors, develop a work plan for downtown development and follow the Main Street Four-Point Approach, a methodology established by the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“Troy’s new status as a Main Street community brings new opportunities for growth,” said Liz Parham, director of the North Carolina Main Street & Rural Planning Center. “Town leaders now have access to one of the largest networks of downtown revitalization professionals in the United States.”

Since 1980, The North Carolina Main Street program has generated $2.3 billion
in private and public investment. In 2015, North Carolina Main Street downtown districts generated 228 net new businesses and 358 net new jobs.

More information about the North Carolina Main Street Center and its programs is available online at nccommerce.com/MainStreet.

Cary Opens New Parks, Names One for Longtime Councilman

The town of Cary has recently opened two new parks that will include different features to attract and entertain residents. Jack Smith Park is home to Cary’s first sprayground. The park includes a children’s play area, climbing rock, picnic shelters, dog park, paved and unpaved trails and that sprayground. The park was named after Jack Smith, a current town council  member, in 2014 when construction began. At that time, Smith had served 25 years on the Cary Council. The project cost about $4.5 million. Most of the money was approved by Cary voters in 2012 as part of the Community Investment Bonds referendum.

The 50-acre Jack Smith Park was once home to the Bartley family farm, which inspired a couple of public art pieces on site. Artist Vollis Simpson has designed a towering whirligig from machine parts and farm equipment. It sits near the play area. Artist William Moore, who created the Katal Dragon at Marla Dorrel Park, created a group of sheep sculptures (which kids are welcome to climb on). “Cary’s incredible park system is known throughout the nation, and it was certainly a draw for me and my family when we were thinking about relocating from Illinois,” said Cary’s new Town Manager Sean Stegall. “Jack Smith Park is a great addition to our community, and I want to personally encourage folks to come be part of the celebration honoring Councilman Smith’s devotion to Cary.”

Carpenter Park, meanwhile, opened on a 16-acre parcel and will include a community garden, trails and memorial to the victims of two area airplane crashes in 1980s and 1990s. The park also includes pickleball courts and a children’s play area.

Mount Airy Greenway Ties Town to Nature

Much attention has been paid to revitalizing downtowns in North Carolina by adding storefronts and parking garages. But one town has learned that they can build up their community with the natural landscape that was there to begin with. Since 2002, the town of Mount Airy has worked with Resource Institute to develop the Ararat Greenway and Stream Restoration project, which loops around downtown Mount Airy for seven miles.

Catrina Alexander, director of the town’s Parks and Recreation department, said the activity generated by the trail is contagious. “We’ve always had a lot of pride for feeling like that small slice of Americana and we’ve just been very fortunate to have a very vibrant downtown with energy,” Alexander said.

A study by the Piedmont Triad Council of Government and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Tourism Program estimated the Ararat River Restoration and Green Way Project generates $500,000 annually for the community in the form of increased business. The project was partially made possible by support from Resource Institute, which connects communities with available funds for restoration projects.

According to Alexander, in addition to creating economic activity, the trail also has increased physical activity for everyone. “It’s also taken away the socio-economic factors as it relates to access,” she said. “So regardless of a person’s economic situation, they now have access to resources that keep them healthier, get them into nature and really connect them with the community. “

By managing the water running through Mount Airy’s downtown, the greenway also protects the city’s infrastructure, including sewer lines, roads and bridges. Resource Institute provides assistance in funding projects across the country. The organization currently has 45 projects in North Carolina.