The Anson Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) spent a good portion of its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, May 17, discussing several upcoming construction projects that many officials believe will have positive impacts on the county.
Anson County Manager Lawrence Gatewood started off by pointing out that the Parks & Recreation building renovations are complete, and said he heard “a lot of oohs and aahs” during an open house held May 9.
Gatewood also shared that the county has hired a part-time planner. “She has one objective and that is countywide zoning,” he said.
“Every county needs countywide zoning but the hat trick is to make sure you’re not lowering property values,” AEDC vice chairman Don Scarborough said.
Gatewood agreed that property values are a concern. “It’s a tough job,” he admitted. “You can’t please everyone.”
The county’s fund balance has grown from $1.5 million to $8 million over the past five years, Gatewood said. About $2 million of that has been spent on renovation projects, including the $1 million courthouse renovation. The Belk building in uptown Wadesboro is also slated for renovations soon, and the interior of the courthouse, as well.
The next major project for the county will be a new emergency services center. (See related story, 1A.)
Hugh Wallace asked Gatewood about the new hospital that the county is working on with Carolinas Healthcare System. “It seems like that would be a huge plus for the economy,” Wallace said.
Gatewood said that the new hospital is still very much a go, but the health system hasn’t yet finalized a site for the new building, although it will definitely be located on or near Highway 74.
Wallace said that he didn’t want to see the current hospital building torn down, and challenged the group to come up with a suitable use for that building.
Later in the meeting, Cooperative Extension director Janine Rywak announced that the county is entering into an option of purchasing 30 acres of land east of Morven, where a new agri-civic center would be built. The property is off Morven Freight Line Road, near Wade Manufacturing’s property, Rywak said.
The new agri-civic center will have 1,000 feet of road frontage, 22,000 square feet of office space, a conference center that will seat up to 1,000 theatre-style and 850 banquet style, and extra meeting space.
Rywak said she had checked with Union County’s agri-civic center and found that it is booked nearly every weekend and many of its bookings come from Richmond County. “If we had a facility here, we would be able to take their spillover,” she said.
The total cost of the project is about $10 million. Rywak said her planning committee has voted to start a grassroots campaign to raise one-quarter of that amount, and the county would be responsible for the other $7 million. A good portion of that $7 million could come from grants. Rep. Frank McGuirt and Sen. Bill Purcell have filed a bill to procure $5 million in grant money for the agri-civic center.
In other business, the AEDC also discussed the upcoming Monroe Bypass, which is currently on hold. Scarborough said he felt the bypass would help improve Anson’s local economy. “I really think the bypass will make a huge difference,” he said.
“Imagine being able to get to Charlotte in 20 minutes.” AEDC at-large member Fred Sparger said he thinks the question is, does Anson County want the bypass? “Do we want to be a bedroom community?” Sparger asked.
“Whether we want it or not, it’s going to be happen,” Scarborough said. “I would love to have the problems Union County has right now.”