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Badin scenic byway route may be changed

The Pee Dee Valley Drive scenic byway may change to include more of downtown Badin.

During its meeting on Aug. 14, Badin Town Council heard from Connie Morgan, scenic byway coordinator for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, regarding making changes to the current byway.

Town Manager Jay Almond said Morgan went on the byway to experience it like a visitor, then told him her thoughts.

“That excursion led her to see small re-route opportunities that might interest and benefit the town and offered to meet with the council to discuss her findings,” Almond said via email. “Her suggestions seemed to be in the interest of the town as well as the typical byway traveler. The council is considering how the proposed route would affect the town and has requested staff review and offer recommendations.”

Currently, the route begins on Henderson Street near Badin Elementary School. Henderson becomes Valley Drive, which is followed for 5.5 miles to the intersection of North Carolina High way 24/27/73, according to North Carolina Scenic Byways, a guidebook published by the DOT.

The route continues down the highway briefly before going down Indian Mound Road, past Lake Tillery, before reaching the town of Norwood, stopping at U.S. Highway 52.

If changed, the route would begin on Maple Street instead of Henderson, with motorists turning down Kirk Place before joining Valley Drive and continuing the rest of the route as it is currently.

Motorists who use the current route can access it by going on Nantahala Street and picking up Henderson, while the new start to the route would direct guests to go by Badin Museum on Falls Road on their way to Maple.

“I believe the council sees merit in re-routing, particularly with regard to exposing travelers to Badin’s central business district and museums,” Almond said. “After that, it’s a matter of deciding how to best include historic French-colonial architecture and the elementary school. Those features are all accessible in a tidy area, so in all likelihood even a minor change to the proposed re-route could accommodate the council’s preferences.”

Almond said he appreciated Morgan’s suggestion, adding it was “an enhancement that not everyone would have taken the time to explore.”

Economic development

During the meeting, the council also heard from representatives with Retail Coach, who presented information on a program Badin could use to try and boost business.

The company offers “national retail consulting, market research and development” for its clients, according to the “Comprehensive Retail Recruitment and Development Plan” prepared for the Badin proposal.

As part of its package, Retail Coach offers to help Badin find retailers and developers, working on its marketing strategies, and draw business.

“As a point of emphasis, Badin Town Council and staff are working to maintain economic development progress that has gained momentum in the past 18 months,” Almond said. “In doing so, we have consulted with Stanly County EDC staff as well as municipalities inside and outside of Stanly County to help hone our approach.”

While Badin is small, Almond said it holds potential.

“We don’t have the metro-proximity our friends and colleagues in the westernmost areas of Stanly County enjoy or the general gravitas of Albemarle as county seat, but we have excellent recreational opportunities that pair well with a fascinating history and small-town atmosphere,” Almond said.

The town has heard proposals from similar firms earlier in the year.

“Those meetings have helped us distill a tailor-made business recruitment strategy for Badin’s niche and needs,” Almond said.

The council did not approve either the scenic byway route change or hiring Retail Coach, according to town clerk Amanda Bowers.

It will discuss both issues during its next meeting before reaching a decision.

The next regular council meeting will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 11.

Imari Scarbrough is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News and Press.