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by Kevin Griffin, Hickory Daily Record
Click here for the original article and additonal video from the Hickory Daily Record.

Members of the Hickory City Council lauded the successes of the city’s bond program as they heard presentations on project updates and the program’s economic impact at their Tuesday meeting.

Hickory has already completed the City Walk, one of the five walkways being built throughout the city.

Hickory Executive Assistant City Manager Yaidee Fox updated the council on the status of the city’s other bond projects.

She told the council the Riverwalk bridge that extends out over Lake Hickory is 90% finished and is expected to be complete and open to the public this summer.

A construction worker enjoys his lunch break while sitting on a bench on the new Riverwalk on Lake Hickory earlier this month. The city expects the Riverwalk will be complete this summer.  ROBERT C. REED, RECORD

The Aviation Walk, which runs past the Hickory Regional Airport and L.P. Frans Stadium and connects both sides of U.S. 321 via pedestrian bridge, is 60% complete. She said workers are in the process of adding railings, lighting and fencing.

In response to a question from Councilman Tony Wood, Fox said the additional work on the pedestrian bridge will include measures to make the “Hickory” lettering on the sides of the bridge easier to read.

“When some of the railings and some of the additional lighting is done, that’s some things that will be taken care of as well,” Fox said. “It’ll change the way that looks when you’re coming from the Lenoir area, Caldwell County side and/or going the opposite way.”

Workers move the Aviation Walk bridge over U.S. 321 into position in January. Ongoing work at the pedestrian bridge includes installation of railing, lights and fencing.  ROBERT C. REED, RECORD

She said the city is currently advertising for bids for the Historic Ridgeview Walk, which will run from the City Walk in downtown through the Ridgeview community and out to U.S. 70.

Workers have been relocating utility poles in the Old Lenoir Road area in preparation for construction on the OLLE Art Walk, which is expected to be bid this summer, Fox said. 

The one non-trail-related component of the bond program is the Trivium Corporate Center, the business park off Robinwood and Startown roads.

Five companies have already located in the original park to the west of Startown Road and the park is currently being expanded to the east of the road. Fox said the city has put out bids for a sewer line as part of the expansion.

City Manager Warren Wood said these projects represent around $100 million in investment between the $40 million in bonds approved by voters in 2014 to additional grant funding the city has secured since then.

“All this has taken longer but everything is twice the size it was going to be, so that’s been the trade-off,” Wood said.

Business Services Manager Dave Leonetti updated the council on the economic impact of the projects so far.

He said that impact includes about $846 million in private investment, more than 1,200 new housing units built or under development in the area around the walkway corridor and about 6,800 new jobs. That number reflects 4,737 jobs which are classified as construction jobs and 2,066 which are considered permanent.

Leonetti said the construction jobs figure does not mean there are 4,700 people working in construction at the moment but that “the total amount of construction activity is supporting that level of jobs for a period of one year.”

He said the city uses economic modeling software to help determine jobs impact. For the permanent jobs, the city looks at the number of jobs companies have created or said they will create and using the modeling software to estimate additional, indirect jobs as a result of the other economic activity.

Members of the city council said the development the city has seen from the projects is vindication of the vision they have been working toward for the past decade.

“Our three goals of growing jobs, growing population, growing tax base, we’ve seen tremendous successes in all of those areas, and I think they’re all directly related to the trails and the bond projects,” Mayor Hank Guess said.

Councilwoman Jill Patton echoed that sentiment and expressed her gratitude to the city’s residents for supporting that vision.

“I really want to thank the citizens of the city for believing that we could do this, and it would work and it’s shown it is working,” Patton said.


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