A Plan for the Future
The Town of East Spencer is a small town located directly off highway 85; that many people tend to drive straight through. The main road which is appropriately named Long Street spans the length of the Town and leads to the City of Salisbury. As you drive this street, you may notice signs of what was once a thriving town. The physical structure of past businesses is still present but sits vacant as an indicator that the Town of East Spencer has room for growth and development.
Developing Its Own
The Town of East Spencer, which was incorporated in 1901, was originally named “The Original Southern City”. During a time of the industrial period, the town’s location was significant to the railway system. As time progressed, the town continued to develop and flourish. In subsequent years, the Town of East Spencer established its own municipalities, such as a town hall/police department, post office, and fire station. All of which are located in the central block of the town. Over time, with different administrations and leadership, the town saw a decline in economic growth. However, the current town Mayor and Alderman Board are focused on revitalization, expansion of the town, and attracting new business to the area.
3-5 Year Plan
In an interview with Mayor Barbara Mallet and Town Manager Michael Douglas, two noticeable themes that were highlighted were growth and revitalization. Mayor Mallet commented that the “Town of East Spencer is in a period of growth”. She described that the town alderman board has been focused on revitalizing the town so that it can continue to operate independently and grow the economy of the town.
Town leaders are working on a 3 to 5-year plan that includes new housing, attracting new industries and developers to the area, expansion of the town’s geographic area, revitalizing Long Street, and improving the town’s infrastructure. The focus on infrastructure includes increasing pay to town employees to improve retention rates, paying off the town’s fire truck, and purchasing 3 new town vehicles. In addition, the town has received a grant that will focus on improving the town’s water and sewer system.
As part of East Spencer’s housing development plan, there are currently fifty-three new single-family homes being built and eight lots have been cleared in preparation for 57-housing unit development. To support current residents, five families were chosen as part of a CDBGI grant to receive repairs and improvements to their homes at no cost to them. At this time, two of the families have already had repairs made.
Additional new developments that have occurred in the last year are the instillation of a Cashpoints ATM machine and the installation of a splash pad at the town’s community park, Royal Giants Park.
The East Spencer Board of Aldermen is consistently evaluating the needs of the community as they look to grow the town. An example of this is the development, is the Town of East Spencer being chosen as a location for a new Cashpoints ATM. Town Manager Douglas reported that in the month of April, which was its first month of operation, the Cashpoints ATM was the highest producing location in Rowan County. Having positive outcomes such as the revenue produced by this ATM location can be shared with future businesses looking to partner with the town.
Another new feature that the town has recently added is the new digital information board that sits on the lawn in front of the town hall. This board displays upcoming events and important messages to help keep residents informed of upcoming events and important messages. This was made possible by a grant offered to municipalities during COVID-19.
Also new to the town, this summer was the opening of an NC Works NextGen center inside of the town hall. This station is a convenient location for 16- to 24-year-olds to search for employment. The motto displayed at the computer station states, “your future starts here”.
One of the town’s most popular new attractions is the local splash pad. The successful implantation of this attraction was a multi-year process. Mayor Mallet reported that the splash pad was initially opened last year. At the time, it was being facilitated by volunteer lifeguards. While the decision worked for a short time, the popularity of the splash pad meant that it was in high demand. With the stress of the pandemic causing staff shortages, the splash pad was closed for a brief time and later reopened this summer with full-time staffing from the Parks and Recreation department. The splash pad is now a low-cost fun activity available for kids to enjoy.
All East Spencer residents are encouraged to attend and participate in the town hall meetings that occur on the first Monday of each month. There is also a meet the town manager meeting on the first Wednesday of each month, where residents can ask questions and learn more about the direction that the Town of East Spencer is moving towards. To stay informed, the town’s updates can be viewed in the town’s monthly newsletter published on eastspencer.gov.
On October 8, 2022, from 12-7 pm, the Town of East Spencer will be hosting a Southern Soul Music Festival at Royal Giants Park. There will be music by a local Rowan County band Divided By Four, The Ace Party Band, and Virginia Rush. This event will also include food vendors, arts and crafts, and an artist talent showcase.