Albemarle celebrates opening of Courthouse Plaza

Published 4:14 pm Monday, June 24, 2024

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The City of Albemarle celebrated the opening of Courthouse Plaza on Saturday with a ribbon cutting.
Mayor Ronnie Michael, City Council members Benton Dry and Chris Whitley, Interim City Manager Darren Rhodes and Main Street Manager Joy Almond were among the elected officials and city staff present for the event.
Michael cut the ribbon and offered welcoming remarks for the dedication ceremony.
“This alleyway used to be, when the courthouse sat in the middle of the square, the road around the courthouse. On the corner of the first building up here is a hitching post that was used for the horses and buggies back in the day,” Michael said. “Transforming this historic area, we hope, will keep the past, but also bring a new future. We look forward to many live music performances, festivals and other events to be held in this place over the next many years.
“I want to talk about the people that were involved is and say some thank-yous. First, I want to say thank you to our city staff. I want to say thank you to all of the city council. It was their vision to make this happen and we were fortunate to have some ARPA money come in from the federal government to be used for this project.
“I also want to say thank you to our current interim city manager, Darren Rhodes, and our past city manager, Michael Ferris, who also had this vision and also worked on our streetscape plan for many years.
“Our downtown is changing and we look forward to the changes this alleyway will bring to our downtown.”
Rhodes said “the impact of this public space downtown cannot be overstated.”
“This public space will be a destination for years to come which will continue to build on the revitalization we are seeing throughout our downtown,” he said. “This is a great example of how a city can transform a underutilized historical asset into a beautiful public space.”
Rhodes mentioned how the project was funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, ElectriCities of NC and Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation (ADDC).
He also recognized Ferris for his involvement with the downtown master plan, as well as Public Utilities Director Jay Voyles, Financial Director Jacob Weavil, Economic Director Lindsey Almond, Joy Almond and David Fath, director of communications.
He also thanked NJR Group, Casco Signs, Bushwhackers Landscaping, HEMCO, Chambers Engineering and McAdams, as well as city public utilities staff.
The council awarded a contract to complete the project in 2023 to NJR Group of New London, who had a low bid of $837,595.
Joy Almond spoke of how the design commitee for ADDC began talking of a way to “spruce up” the alleyway in the spring of 2017.
“We spent a morning and an afternoon cleaning up, sprucing up, painting back entrances and doing some cleaning up of the landscape back here,” she said. “Who knew all these years later that it would become what it is today? It takes a lot of people to make these projects happen and Darren mentioned, quite a few of them earlier.
“Community is defined as a group of people living together in one place, especially one practicing common ownership. Our downtown spaces like the one here at Courthouse Plaza are created for our community to be enjoyed by all who live and visit here,” she added. “Several activities have already taken place here at Courthouse Plaza, the Stanly County Winter Wine Festival that was hosted by Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation. The Still Runs Car Show preview party hosted by Pin Ups and Pumps. Make Music Day hosted yesterday (Friday) in partnership with the Stanly County Arts Council. In addition to the grand opening of Courthouse Plaza today marks the inaugural Downtown Art Walk in partnership with the Stanly Arts Guild as we utilize the space to support our local artists.
“The city of Albemarle, the ADDC and other partner organizations will continue to enhance Courthouse Plaza and other downtown spaces with elements such as landscaping and public art to add to the vibrancy of our growing downtown.”

B.J. Drye is general manager/editor of The Stanly News & Press. Call 704-982-2123.