ASHEBORO — The proposed Aldridge Park in Archdale has the full support of the Randolph County Tourism Development Authority.
On April 26, Archdale City Manager Zeb Holden and Brian Clodfelter, parks and recreation director, gave the TDA board an overview of the plans for the park, located on 7.42 acres adjacent to Trindale Elementary School.
Two baseball fields were once used at the site, which had been acquired by the Grubb Family YMCA for development until the COVID-19 pandemic shut down those plans. It has since been donated to the City of Archdale, Holden said.
The city consulted with McGill Associates to consider how to develop the property as a park. After holding public meetings, it was found that the overwhelming desire from participants was to redevelop the park into a mixed-use recreational space.
Popular amenities included a multi-purpose field, pickleball courts and an approximately half-mile paved walking path that circumnavigates the park and connects surrounding neighborhoods.
The inclusion of an accessible playground, lawn games, shelters and open space was also strongly desired, according to information presented at the March 28 meeting of the Archdale City Council.
Holden said the city will apply for a state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant of up to $500,000, which requires a 50-percent local match. If the grant is approved, the city will have three years for implementation.
The anticipated cost in 2023 for the proposed Aldridge Park was said to be $4,912,875, an estimate based on master plan-level design. Final construction documents will have to be completed to present a more accurate figure.
Because of the cost of the project, Holden said, it was recommended that the project be divided into two or three manageable phases.
“When we took possession (of the property), I knew it was momentous,” Holden said. “I appreciate the TDA’s partnership. I just want your verbal support for the grant application.”
Susan Dosier of DK Communications Group noted by Zoom link that the project couldn’t be better since it “increases land values, physical health and mental health.”
In other business, the board:
— Received the proposed TDA budget for 2023-24 from Will Massie, Randolph County and TDA finance officer. He said the proposed budget totals $1,520,000, which is $433,485 more than the 2022-23 budget. The primary source of revenue for the TDA is a 5 percent room occupancy tax levied by Randolph County.
In his report, Massie said, “For 2023-24, these distributions are expected to be $1,290,000, which is significantly higher than the budgeted amount in the prior year, but consistent with actual current year collections. Although there is widespread belief that an economic recession is coming in the upcoming year, we assume no growth in collections rather than a decline. Interest income of $10,000 is included as a financial resource in this budget based on rising interest rates. These funds will be used to conduct the primary tourism efforts of the Authority, the Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau.”
Personnel costs total $439,544, funding six full-time positions. Operating costs are budgeted at $127,500 and marketing costs total $711,956, up from $548,911. The proposed budget retains $21,000 for tourism related programs.
For the budget, $220,000 is appropriated by the contract with the NC Department of Transportation for the operation of the 1-73/74 Visitor Centers. That brings the total budget to $1,520,000.
A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for the May 17 board meeting. The authority may adopt the final budget following this public hearing.
— Was presented the DEAI Comprehensive Plan by Executive Director Amber Scarlett.
DEAI stands for Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion.
According to Scarlett, “The goal of the DEAI Comprehensive Plan is to build better practices for our team and provide resources for our industry partners while creating a safe environment for our visitors to explore. We want to make travel welcoming to everyone.The goal of the DEAI Comprehensive Plan is to build better practices for our team and provide resources for our industry partners while creating a safe environment for our visitors to explore. We want to make travel welcoming to everyone."
The three pillars of DEAI, she said, are management and workforce, visitorship and community impact. She broke those pillars down further for the board before saying, “This is a fluid document. We can improve on it.”
David Caughron, board chair, said, “This is just the foundation to get us started. We’ve worked hard to align with what the county is doing.”
The board approved the DEAI Comprehensive Plan.
— Heard the monthly reports on finance, hotel data, the Visitor Centers, social media, public relations and visual advertising.
The next meeting will be at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17, when the public hearing will be held on the proposed budget. The TDA Board meets at the Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau office, 500 Albemarle Road, Asheboro.