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Walking routes to be expanded

Albemarle City Council heard a report at its Oct. 7 meeting from Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Kiser on the implementation, signage and development of a number of walking routes within the city.

Kiser, who has worked along with Planning and Development Services Director Kevin Robinson, Public Works Director Ross Holshouser and Main Street Director Joy Almond, noted route development has been underway since November 2017.

The project should be complete in June 2020.

Development of the routes is an outgrowth of the city’s efforts to expand its greenway system, much of which has been developed along abandoned railway right-of-way.

“Dealing with the railroad has been difficult,” said Kiser, who noted that effective communication with the organization has been difficult to achieve.

“As a result, we turned our attention to developing existing walkways,” she said, recognizing supporting agencies Vac & Dash, Atrium Health, Stanly County Public Health, Stanly County Family YMCA, Stanly County Senior Services, Monarch and GHA.

Robinson explained the criteria for route development.

“We first looked to create walking loops of different distances,” he said, “while utilizing existing infrastructure to connect destinations.”

Eleven paths, utilizing both city sidewalks and greenways, have been developed, according to Robinson.

In response to a question from Councilman Chris Bramlett regarding the condition of some sections of sidewalk, Robinson said he and Holshouser had assessed this prior to formation of the plan.

“The proposed trails use sidewalks that are in good repair,” Holshouser said.

Kiser said a kiosk with all routes marked will be placed at the YMCA park. Routes will be marked with medallions which will be affixed to the sidewalks and color-coded by distance.

“With the Pfeiffer facility coming to downtown, creating a more walkable community is a must,” Kiser said. “This will increase health and wellness opportunities, and the increased foot traffic in downtown will create a positive economic impact.”

Although a definite date for a grand opening has not been finalized, Kiser anticipates this to occur around June 2020.

For further information on the project, contact Albemarle Parks and Recreation at 704-984-9560.

Toby Thorpe is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.